How to Improve Sleep While Traveling

Posted by Darian Dozier on Dec 3, 2021 8:53:00 AM

How to Improve Sleep While Traveling

Traveling can be full of new experiences, but traveling can also wreak havoc on your sleep, especially if traveling to new time zones. Traveling outside of Alaska can especially be tough because of the difference in light exposure that other places have, compared to Alaska. Regardless if you're traveling, it's still super important to maintain proper sleep. Continue reading to find out how traveling can impact your sleep and the best tips for mitigating those disruptions. 

How traveling can disrupt your sleep.

Stress and travel fatigue

Traveling can put a lot of stress on your mind and body. Whether you're traveling by plane, bus, car, train, etc., the process of packing, getting places on time, and getting to your new destination adds a lot of stress. If you are impacted by motion sickness or a fear of traveling, then this can contribute to travel fatigue. Travel days are really long, flights can be really early and land really late. This whole process can wear you out and alter your sleep schedule. 

Time zone changes 

Time zone changes can also interrupt your sleep. The sun sets and rises at different times than your body is used to, and your activities may be earlier or later than you would like. It takes at least one day per hour for your body to adjust to the time difference. Traveling across time zones, like overseas flights, can also make it hard for your circadian rhythm to maintain itself. 

Different sleep environment

If you have crafted your perfect sleep environment, sleeping somewhere else could be so uncomfortable that you have a hard time going to sleep. The mattress could be uncomfortable, and sleeping in hotel rooms is foreign to your body. The sounds could be different outside your window and you may feel anxious about the cleanliness. 

Changes in routine

In addition to you sleep environment, your sleep hygiene may be negatively impacted as well. If you have a routine that you do to help yourself get ready for bed, then traveling can alter this. Late night events, deadlines, exploration, gatherings, etc., are all events that can alter your routine. This can throw your brain off as it is used to a certain routine before bed. Without it, you may find it slightly harder to go to sleep. 

How to Improve Sleep While Traveling. 

  • Alter your sleep schedule before you go. Days before you are set to travel to a different time zone, start falling asleep earlier if you are moving backwards, and later if you are moving forward. You can gradually do this by a few hours to help acclimate your body before you go. 
  • Reduce travel stress by preparing earlier. Making sure you're packed, have a travel plan and everyone on the same page may help reduce travel fatigue. Arrive to your boarding times early so you can be relaxed and practice some calming techniques if you have phobias related with traveling. 
  • Follow the local schedule. It may be so tempting to hit the sheets as soon as you land. However, if the locals are up and about, you should be too. If it is time to go to sleep, then stay up as you travel and sleep when you arrive. This will help your body acclimate to the new schedule. Use eye masks and sunglasses to help with light intake so you take in the most at midday and take in the least early in the morning or late at night. 
  • Try to reduce the amount of sleep altering medications like sleep drugs, caffeine, and alcohol. These substances may add to your sleep problems. Taking melatonin at night may also help your body circulate the right hormones for optimal sleep. 
  • Bring items from home that make you feel more at home. Maybe you want to bring your own sheets or pillows, or perhaps a spray that you can use to make your room smell like your home. 

If you travel frequently and find yourself with a tough sleep schedule, click below to take a free online sleep test to learn how to better coordinate your sleep. 

Take a Free Online Sleep Test





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