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How to Sleep Better When Traveling

Posted By: Layla

Quality sleep can be hard to come by, even when you're in your own bed. However, it can be even more challenging when you're traveling for the holidays or vacation on a plane, train, bus, or car. Nevertheless, sleep is important, and feeling well-rested can help you enjoy your travels more. To ensure you can enjoy your vacation to the fullest, it’s important to know how to get quality sleep when traveling. Read through to learn more on how to sleep when traveling, or use the links below to jump to a section you’re interested in.

How to Sleep Better When Traveling

How to Sleep Better When Traveling Via Plane, Train, Bus, or Car

Falling asleep on a plane, train, bus, or when riding in a car is never easy, but you don’t have to lose sleep during travel. Instead, follow these tips to help you sleep better when traveling.

sleep better in train

What Is Jet Lag?

Can’t sleep while traveling? You’re not alone. Before we get into the details about how to sleep better, you’ll need to know the most common cause of sleep deprivation for travelers—jet lag. If you’ve ever traveled to a different time zone, you likely felt fine for the first few hours after getting there. However, later when you tried to sleep, you found out that you couldn’t even though you felt exhausted. This is called jet lag, and it happens when you fly across time zones. Jet lag can make it harder for you to fall asleep, stay asleep, or stay awake throughout the day, which will make you feel exhausted until you get it under control.

Jet lag can make you feel tired or even sick, but it doesn’t last forever. Most people start feeling like themselves again after just a few days.

sign of jet lag

Sleeping can be difficult with or without jet lag, but we’ve gathered a few tips to help you learn how to sleep during travel.

Choose Your Seat Carefully

Sleep and travel don’t mix well, whether you’re sleeping in airports or getting a hotel room. However, you can ensure that you sleep better by choosing the right seat in your mode of transportation. Whether you’re on a plane, train, bus, or in the car, your seat will have a big role in how comfortable and relaxed you can feel to promote sleep. Finding a comfortable seat might be easier on an airplane than on a bus, as many airlines offer larger, more comfortable seats that may even recline for an additional fee. You may also choose to travel in style and comfort by traveling first class, where you can guarantee more comfort.

On trains, you can opt for first-class that will have sleeping areas so that you can rest when you’re traveling to a new timezone.

Unfortunately, if you can’t afford to travel first class, then there are still ways to get a better seat. Airlines will allow you to pay for more comfortable and larger seats so you won’t feel like you’re on top of the person sitting next to you. If possible, you can sleep during travel better by getting a seat that reclines.

Seats at different airlines may differ, but you can still travel coach and be comfortable with a little research online. On trains, you should be able to find reclining seats even in coach, but again, do your research before you purchase a ticket. Many buses also have reclining seats for overnight passengers to make you more comfortable. When traveling in a car, choose the passenger seat if no other seat reclines. If you’re traveling with other people, consider setting a plan for who gets the passenger seat and when, so everyone can get some quality rest.

You should also consider your seat placement. On planes, trains, and buses, the aisle seat can be distracting, with many passengers going back and forth from their seats to use the bathroom or stretch their legs. If you don’t want the distraction of people possibly bumping into you, then you can choose a middle or window seat. Many people who plan to sleep on planes, trains, or buses, prefer the window seat because it gives them something to lean on without worrying that they’ll be taking up someone else’s personal space.

Ensure Your Belongings Are Secure

Getting better sleep will require you to feel safe. Most people sleep the best in their own homes because they feel secure. Part of feeling safe while traveling in public means that you’ll need to keep your belongings secure and away from people who might steal them.

On a plane, your luggage might have gone through baggage check, so there’s nothing for you to worry about while you try to get quality sleep. However, if you bring a carry-on, you can keep it safe in the overhead storage or under your seat. If you’re carrying a purse, you can keep your purse on your shoulder or lap to make you feel more secure.

Dress Comfortably

Sleep and travel don’t have to be separate actions. You don’t have to choose between the two. While you would much rather sleep in your own bed, there are ways to be more comfortable while you’re trying to sleep while on a plane, train, bus, or in a car. The number one thing that will help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep is to dress comfortably. There’s no reason to dress up for a plane ride. Instead, consider wearing comfortable clothing. While you may not want to wear your pajamas in public, you can still wear sweatpants or any other type of clothing that makes you feel comfortable.

You should also bring something that can keep you warm, such as a sweater, jacket, or cardigan. If you have a carry-on bag, you can also bring a blanket that will help you feel more comfortable and get your mind ready for sleep, even if you’re on a crowded mode of transportation.

Consider Timing

If your journey will be a long one that spans time zones, you’ll have to start thinking about your sleep schedule as soon as possible and how that will change. Sometimes, jet lag is unavoidable, but you can prevent it or reduce your symptoms by adjusting your sleeping schedule before you start traveling. Consider changing up your routine at least a few days before your trip, if possible. For example, if you’re traveling on a Monday, you can use the weekend before your flight to go to bed earlier or later, depending on where you’re going.

You can further reduce jet lag by considering the flight time. If you’re traveling overseas, you can choose a flight that matches your current sleep schedule as closely as possible. In addition, overnight flights allow you to get the rest you need before you reach your destination.

Bring Sleeping Accessories

Being able to fall asleep, no matter where you are, is all about relaxing your mind and body. Getting sleep while traveling is difficult for most people because you’re used to your big, soft bed. When you have to sleep in a new position or a new place, falling asleep won’t be easy. Luckily, you can make yourself more comfortable and allow your mind and body to relax with sleep accessories, including:

  • Memory foam pillow: A memory foam pillow will make you feel like you’re sleeping in your own home, which can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep. You can bring a pillow from home that has the scent of your home on it to help you feel more comfortable. In addition, a pillow can help relieve neck stiffness if you’re sleeping in uncomfortable positions at the airport or train station.
  • Eye masks: Eye masks will help black out any light so that you can fall asleep wherever you are. Many people can’t sleep in airports because the lights are too bright and there’s too much going on around them. An eye mask can block out light and movement to help you get more comfortable.
  • Earplugs: Eye masks can do a lot, but they can’t block out sound. Luckily, you can get affordable earplugs that will block sounds no matter how loud they are so that you won’t get distracted when you need quality rest.
  • Blankets: You won’t be able to bring your entire bed on your travels, but you can bring a blanket that will help you fall asleep while traveling. For example, your comforter might not fit in your luggage, but you can use a weighted blanket for sleep as the perfect comfort item that you can pull out and use wherever you are.
  • use a weighted blanket for sleep
  • Pet bed: If you refuse to go anywhere without your beloved pet, then ensure that he or she is just as comfortable as you are with a bed for your pet that you can take anywhere.

How to Sleep Better Somewhere New

Sleeping somewhere new always feels a bit uncomfortable for a few days. Whether you’re at your best friend’s house, staying with family, or you’re staying in a hotel room, falling asleep and staying asleep in a place you’ve never slept before can be challenging.

Research demonstrates a phenomenon known as the first-night effect, which is when you have trouble sleeping in a new environment. Because you’re in a new place, your brain naturally views it as a potentially dangerous environment. Unfortunately, this means that your brain keeps one area of itself more active than the other so that you can wake up and protect yourself if necessary.

Luckily, there are ways to combat the first-night effect, and it usually goes away after one to two nights as your brain learns that your new location isn’t dangerous. Here’s how you can sleep better in a new place:

tips for sleeping better

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated keeps you energized and alert throughout the day, and the more active you are when the sun is up, the better you’ll sleep at night. Hydration impacts sleep and dehydration can cause preventable fatigue throughout the day that will keep you awake at night because your body hasn’t expended enough energy to fall asleep.

Try Exercising During the Day

Even if you’re on vacation, you should still take time for physical activity that can help your body expend energy throughout the day and give you a more restful night’s sleep. Exercising before bed allows you to get rid of additional energy while reducing stress. However, some people may prefer to exercise during the day as exercising too close to bed gives them excess energy.

Stick to Your Sleep Routine

Sticking to your sleep routine, also called your sleep hygiene, can help you maintain your sleep schedule so that you won’t feel fatigued during the day and awake at night. While it’s not always possible to maintain the exact same sleep schedule, try to fall asleep and wake up as close to your regular times as possible. Maintaining your sleep schedule ensures that your circadian rhythm won’t get disrupted so that you’ll feel less tired while traveling.

You should also continue all of your activities to get yourself ready for bed. For example, if you wash your face and brush your teeth right before hopping into bed, don’t stop this part of your daily routine because doing so could trick your brain into thinking that it’s not time for bed yet.

Book Your Room Carefully

Your hotel or motel room will impact your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Make sure that you research your hotel and the types of rooms they offer. For example, you should avoid booking a room that faces the street because you’ll have tons of light in your room at night.

You should also learn how to check for bed bugs. Even if a hotel doesn’t have a history of having bed bugs, it’s better to be safe than sorry. You can ensure that the bed is safe and healthy to sleep in by checking for bed bugs yourself, but you can go a step further by bringing your own linens.

Set Room to the Right Temperature

You may have noticed that falling asleep in the summer is difficult without a window, fan, or air conditioning. That’s because your room’s temperature affects your ability to fall asleep. If your room is too hot or too cold, then you won’t be able to fall asleep or stay asleep. The average best temperature for sleep is around 65 degrees, but it’s all a matter of preference. Your ideal temperature may be higher or lower than 65, which may even change with the seasons.

Set Room to the Right Temperature

Set your room temperature to the temperature you would have your house or apartment set at when you go to sleep. Keep in mind that your hotel or motel room might be warmer or colder based on a number of factors, including insulation and where it’s located within the building. For example, if your room has poor insulation and you keep feeling cold even though your thermostat is set at your ideal temperature, you might need to raise it a few degrees.

Take Melatonin

Melatonin is a great resource for individuals with jet lag or those who need to adjust their sleep schedules. Your brain already naturally produces melatonin around bedtime, especially when it’s dark out, and it can help maintain the internal clock that lets you know when it’s time to go to sleep or wake up.

take melatonin

Melatonin is available as a supplement that can help you start feeling tired faster than relying on your body’s own melatonin alone so that you can readjust your sleep schedule. For example, if you have jet lag and can’t fall asleep at night, you can take melatonin to help you start falling asleep earlier until your body adjusts to your new schedule.

Wrapping Up: How to Sleep Better When Traveling

Sleep and travel might be two of your favorite things, but enjoying your vacation can be difficult if you don’t get quality sleep. There are several ways you can promote a better night’s sleep no matter what time zone you’ve traveled to.

What’s most important is that you can make yourself comfortable enough to fall asleep wherever you are. Layla Sleep offers sleep products that can help you get a good night’s rest when traveling. From our weighted blankets to comfortable pillows, you won’t have to worry about losing sleep during travel again.