Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Travel Tip Tuesdays: Seven Tips for Sleeping When You Travel

I’ve slept many different places throughout my years of traveling: spare bedrooms, Greyhound buses, hostel bunks, tents, backseats, a beach, a picnic table, an RV couch, a sailboat, a concrete rest stop floor, and more couches than I can count (but never, incidentally, a plane). It can be difficult to settle down and rest when you’re in an unfamiliar bed, but there are things you can do to encourage your body to take some much-needed rest.

1. Eat your vitamins. Don’t neglect your health when you’re on the road: getting proper nutrients will help you feel better overall and sleep deeper. (See Seven Helpful Travel Foods.)

Mary has the right idea.
2. Keep physically active during the day. I’m convinced that many people who have sleep problems could do away with their insomnia if they were more active. When you’re on a trip, take a brisk walk, play in the ocean, stretch while you’re sitting on the train, stop at a rest stop and throw a frisbee around. Getting out in the fresh air and sunlight will help, too.

3. Have a bedtime ritual. Your body thrives on habits, so if you give it consistency, it’ll be happier with you. Try rubbing a fragrant lotion on your face just before bed, or always going to sleep right after you brush your teeth. 

4. Listen to a specific playlist of music. When I started traveling, I’d often listen to a mellow album of piano music when I was trying to get to sleep. I did it so often that every time I hear those songs now, I get sleepy! 

5. Wear a blindfold and/or earplugs. I learned to sleep with a bandana tied across my eyes when my sister and I had a difference of opinion about the lights in our room. Now I have a hard time sleeping without one. I’ve only used earplugs while sleeping in a campsite with friends at a music festival— when I’m solo I tend to be a bit paranoid, and like to be able to hear what’s going on around me.

6. If you can’t sleep, meditate. I have a lot of trouble sleeping in a car, and have never been able to sleep on a plane, so I spend a lot of my time with my whole body relaxed, concentrating on my breathing and allowing my consciousness to focus more and more inward. If I do it right, I can reach a state where I’m completely relaxed. Even though I can still hear and feel things, this meditative state is good enough to substitute for a nap.

7. Allow yourself enough time to get a solid eight hours. In high school when all my friends were bragging about their three- and four-hour nights, I gladly admitted I was clocking 10 hours a night. I know this essential to my attitude throughout the day. Sometimes on a trip you need to sacrifice sleep to get an opportunity, but remember: sleep is important. Make it a priority, and you’ll have a lot more fun doing everything you want to do on your trip.


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