It’s no surprise there are thousands of searchable articles devoted to the quest to get better sleep while traveling for business or leisure.
Because of all the considerations we must make; time zone shifts, length of stay, the types of clothes to pack and preparations necessary to move one or several adults (and often children) from point A to point B. The one consideration we cannot avoid - the one certain thing we will be taking with us wherever we go– is our body’s continued need to get regular, high quality rest.
What may surprise you is getting better sleep while traveling isn’t all about navigating sleep jet lag, which is the common term for the immediate effects a shift in one or several time zones has on the body. In this article, we’ll explore the real culprit behind restlessness when traveling, and what simple things we can do to minimize the effect travel has on getting better rest while traveling. (We know a little something about the good sleep part!)
When travel for business or leisure upsets your body’s circadian rhythm or “body clock,” unfortunately it’s not as easy as pressing a few buttons to reset the clock like you would on a smartphone or alarm clock. Circadian rhythms don’t have an app for that; they are the body’s 24-hour internal “clock” based on the routine cycle of light and dark that is natural to every day.
Circadian rhythms regulate:
You can no more avoid your circadian rhythm than you can avoid breathing or blinking; it is a process within your body that becomes entrained based on your primary environment.
So when an extended vacation, long-distance business trip or even a shift change at work is in the cards, your body will first try to maintain its existing circadian rhythm, even while trying to adjust to a new one based on your new location or new daily schedule.
That’s why you feel inexplicably tired even a few days into a journey, or why you may have trouble falling asleep, or waking up. It may even be the reason why you have odd cravings or feelings of restlessness while on vacation. Getting better sleep while traveling doesn’t have to be a chore, however!
According to Medical News Today, the challenges we face when adjusting our body clocks to deal with sleep jet lag and a shift in the body’s circadian rhythm are quite similar to the everyday challenges we face to maintain a healthy lifestyle that balances exercise, nutrition, personal well-being and proper rest.
Exercise: We can’t emphasize this first point enough! Traveling survey respondents who self-report exercising even moderately while away from home report a 61% increase in productivity.
Food & Water: Emphasis on Water. Water is the body’s natural coolant, and is the most abundant substance within our body. Hydrating while traveling - along with eating regular, healthy, nutrient rich meals, can help bolster your system against circadian rhythm struggles.
Avoid Depressants, Stimulants and Unnecessary Medications.Alcohol, caffeine, and over the counter medication (including many sleep aids) all affect the delicate chemistry of the body, and even moreso while on the road as your body adjusts to a new rhythm. We’re not talking abstinence here; just use the common sense of moderation. You may find you are able to sleep better while traveling by doing so!
Pics, Pillows & Personal Effects: The associations and reminders we have with home even while on vacation can play a positive role in releasing calming or nurturing endorphins within the body. A favorite pillow, pictures of your family, a great book or DVD can provide reinforcements for the comforts of home. Plus? They’re easy to pack!
Prepare For Sleep: You probably try to follow a regular sleep schedule at home. On the road, it’s doubly important! Sleep is necessary to aid both the body and mind to recover from the day. Try to go to sleep a little early in the days leading up to trips, and remember that a well-timed nap during the day can help you “bank” sleep while traveling.
Biased? Sure! But that’s because SleepPhones® headphones were actually invented to help a family doctor get back to sleep at night! SleepPhones® headphones help to minimize noise, while being the most comfortable headphones you can find, which is undoubtedly important when you are in a noisy hotel room trying to sleep while traveling.
The secret is in the headphones-in-a-headband design! The ultra thin, adjustable speakers are tucked inside a comfortable fleece or lightweight moisture-wicking headband, making listening to guided meditation, podcasts, audiobooks or your favorite music a breeze. And since they minimize rather than completely cancel out noise, you won’t miss the sound of a crying child or even a fire alarm.
There’s plenty of research available on the benefits of audio as a non-narcotic sleep aid, including many additional articles, such as Two Powerful Types of Music to Help You Sleep.
We hope you take tall of these tips for better sleep while traveling with you on your next vacation, business trip or extended voyage from home! Please let us know what you think! Travel on over to SleepPhones’ Facebook or Twitter to continue the conversation on one of our social media channels!