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Travel & Sleep: How to Sleep Better When You're Traveling

by Reyna Thomas

Even in your own bed, it might be challenging to get good sleep. However, it can be considerably more difficult if you're taking a holiday or vacation trip by car, train, bus, or plane. Nonetheless, getting enough sleep is essential if you want to fully enjoy your trip. No matter where you're going or how you’re getting there, making a few easy sleep preparations can prevent disruptions to your regular sleep schedule.

young woman napping on train

If You're Staying in the Same Time Zone

If you're traveling but staying within the same time zone, try your best to stick to your regular sleep schedule as much as possible. This means going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends and holidays. Of course, it can be tempting – especially on vacation – to stay up late and sleep in, but this will only make it harder to adjust to your usual routine when you return home.

If You're Crossing Time Zones

If you are crossing one or more time zones during your trip, you can do a few things to make the adjustment easier. First, find out what time it will be at your destination when you need to wake up, and then set your watch or phone to that time. Once you arrive, avoid napping during the day so you'll be tired come bedtime. It can also help to expose yourself to natural light as much as possible since this will help cue your body that it's time to be awake and alert.

woman tired and waiting on flight

To settle into any slight changes in your routine, you can also try these tips:

Plan Ahead 

The recovery process from crossing time zones takes about a day. Consider adjusting your clock to your destination's time zone a day or two before leaving if your trip is jam-packed with events and you can't spare one day off. When you arrive, you will be prepared to arrive at any destination if you plan your sleep and waking patterns around this new time beforehand.

Adjust Naturally

Check to see if your hotel provides blackout curtains or other natural sleep aids in advance. Do not rely on sleep medications or supplements as a sleep aid while traveling if they are not a regular part of your life. If packing any prescriptions for a trip, those medications should be in their original containers with the doctor's prescription printed on the container.

People sleeping on the plane wearing headphones and an eye mask

Stay Hydrated

Travel fatigue is frequently brought on by dehydration. Before boarding a plane, make sure to drink lots of water, and once on board, do not miss the chance to grab even more of it. If you are driving, consider bringing a big thermos or packing a cooler with bottled water to stay hydrated.

Stay Awake on Local Time

Try to keep to the time of your destination, even if it's 11 p.m. in your hometown. No naps or rest until the locals have gone to bed.

young man sleeping on a bus

Prepping for Sleep

Whether you're staying in the same time zone or not, you can pack a few things to help ensure a good night's sleep while on the road. For example, bring your own pillow. If you know that using your own pillow will lead to a night of more restful sleep, it's worth the space it takes up in your luggage. But who knows? If you’re staying with family or friends, their guest room bed might blow you away, and you’ll melt into the mattress at the end of your day.

Pack a sleep mask, earplugs, or calming music. You never know when a hotel may be in the middle of a remodel or night owls could be in the room next to yours. So, if needed, pack items that will block out unwanted noise and light. And remember, don't eat or drink too much. While it is tempting to indulge on vacation, too many calories or too much alcohol close to bedtime could keep you pacing throughout the night.

Woman in sleep mask and with pillow travelling on bus

Finally, if you know you are going to have extreme difficulty sleeping due to vacation travel, talk with your doctor about sleep-promoting medications that can work for you.

Holiday vacations are a time to relax, enjoy quality time with family and friends, or indulge in self-care. But for some, the disruption in sleep schedule, change in environment, and travel stress can damper the festivities. By following these tips, you can help keep your sleep routine while on vacation so you can wake up refreshed and ready to celebrate. And should you return to your own bed longing for the sublime experience you had in the guest bed at your destination, we’ve got you covered. From extra firm to ultra-plush and latex to foam, Westco Home Furnishings has everything you need to recreate that glorious experience. Stop in or shop online today!