Travel is awe-inspiring, reinvigorating, and stimulating- but, often, not relaxing. You might think after a full day (and possibly night) out, you would collapse into your bed and succumb to blissful slumber. But between jetlag, full itineraries, different eating patterns, and a bed that’s not your own, it can be hard to get a good night’s rest.
A total disruption to your routine may be much-needed; it can also, unfortunately, wreak havoc on your bedtime. Some people are more sensitive to the effects of an unfamiliar environment on their sleep than others, but if you’re one of them, here are some steps you can take on your next trip to ensure you’re well-rested for the following day’s adventures.
1. Tune out with a noise machine
These little guys can be a godsend if your room faces a noisy street or shares a wall with some boisterous neighbours. It can also help if you’re just a sensitive sleeper and prefer sensory deprivation to drift off to dreamland. Whether you prefer static white noise or natural sounds like ocean waves or a brook, your options range from budget to luxe and can make a world of difference in the quality of sleep you get in your home away from home. My personal favourite is the ‘Lectro Fan from Adaptive Sound Technologies.
2. Maintain (some) of your regular night routine
Whether it’s reading, watching your favourite sitcom, or having a warm shower, your normal bedtime activities will signal to your body that it’s time to start winding down and get ready for sleep. You may not want to devote as much time as you normally do to your nightly routine, but preserving even ten minutes’ worth of it can help your body transition from the excitement of the day to a more restful state. I love the variety of meditations on the Calm app- they have soothing sleep stories, bedtime meditations ranging from a few minutes to an hour, and soothing sounds and music if you don’t want to invest in a noise machine.
3. Stay hydrated
Like your sleep habits, your water intake may change drastically when you travel. You may not tote a big water bottle around with you, or you may be wary of using a public washroom and try to limit the number of trips you need to make into one over the course of a day. Being dehydrated can set you up for a less-than-optimal night’s sleep, not least because you may wake up with a parched cotton mouth. If you know you haven’t been as mindful of your water intake as you should have been during the day, make sure to drink some before bed, and leave a full water bottle on the table beside you so you aren’t forced to drink from the sink faucet in desperation in the middle of the night. I like the Simply Modern Wave water bottle; it keeps water cold and is easy to clean, with few nooks and crevices that could trap grime.
4. Take melatonin
As always, discuss any medication use, including over-the-counter products, with your physician. Melatonin is a natural hormone involved in your body’s Circadian (day-to-night) rhythm, and it can be used to combat jetlag and “reset” your body clock while you travel. Purchase a brand you trust, and start at the lowest dose that’s effective for you. And of course, be sure to follow the directions for use appropriately.
5. Shut off with an eye mask
Like a noise machine, an eye mask can help you tune out the unfamiliar surroundings around you. They are especially helpful if your lodging is full of ambient light (or if you’re in the far north during summer when daylight is an almost 24-hour affair.) Some people also find weighted eye masks to be soothing; the Nodpod and Unimi are both well-reviewed options, but there is no shortage of others available online.
6. Snuggle up with something that smells like home
This one sounds silly and childish, but it works. Our sense of smell is closely tied to the part of our brains responsible for memories, so it stands to reason that having an item that smells like home would be comforting. It doesn’t have to be a stuffed animal- it could be a t-shirt or travel pillow laundered in your usual detergent- just as long as it smells familiar and soothing to you. You may also opt to use a “sleep spray” in a scent you find relaxing- many people love lavender or eucalyptus for this particular reason.
What do you do to get a good night’s rest when you travel? Let me know in the comments below!