How do you sleep when you travel?
I’m a lifelong insomniac, so sleep presents an unusually difficult challenge to me when I travel. I’m putting together a crowdsourced tips piece for Matador — how do you manage to sleep when you travel? I’ll start with what’s worked for me:
-I’ve spent the past 10 years perfecting a sleep playlist. It’s super selective — it still only has 17 songs — but the right mix of Radiohead (“High and Dry,” “Sail to the Moon,”), Pink Floyd (“Great Gig in the Sky,” “Shine on You Crazy Diamond,”), My Bloody Valentine (“Sometimes,”) and the Stone Roses (“I Wanna Be Adored”) has become surprisingly effective in putting me to sleep in loud plane/train/automobile situations.
-Just recently, I’ve discovered melatonin pills, which have basically ended jetlag for me. I stay up until a reasonable bedtime in the place I’ve just traveled to, take a melatonin pill a half an hour before bed, sleep through the night, and wake up on a normal schedule.
What about you guys, any tips? I’ll take the best and put them into an article.
I’m not an insomniac but I’m a really light sleeper…and one of the worst things for sleep for me is foreign environments…it usually takes a night or two to “acclimatize” and get decent sleeps. In my backpacking days I remember it being less of an issue…probably because the days were exhausting. So I guess there’s a tip: Exhaust yourself! 🙂
And never leave home without a sleep mask and earplugs.
Usually, when I’m traveling, I am so exhausted that I fall right asleep anyway, but on the days that I can’t sleep it’s usually because I’m so eager/anxious for the next day to come (due to exciting events, an early morning airplane, a day packed with meticulous travel plans, or something like that). So taking moments to meditate/calm my mind before I sleep is usually a huge help.
My biggest tip: Melatonin tablets, they are natural, affordable, and can be found in nearly any drug store. I take a few of those, and I’m fast asleep.
If you don’t want to take sleep supplements I suggest:
– Reading a book before bed. This is clinically proven to tire out your eyes and mind. Make sure that it’s an actual paper, printed book, not a tablet or computer (blue light from electronics has been proven to disrupt our circadian rhythms and our REM sleep cycles).
–Lavender or lilac essential oils have been used for centuries as sleep aids. Spraying some lavender or lilac essential oils on your pillow, or rubbing them on your neck and chest before you go to bed helps you to relax and fall asleep. It seriously works like a charm.
– Exercise!! Establishing a routine of activity (whether it’s going on a daily jog in the park by your hotel, or going for a long walk around the city you’re in, or simply walking to your destination instead of taking taxis) is essential in bringing your body to a natural state of fatigue in the evening. I often notice on days that I have been particularly inactive that I have a much harder time falling asleep.
– A warm beverage before bed. This is probably my last tip that is genuinely effective. Drinking hot chocolate, camomille tea, or even just some warm water before bed will help warm your stomach, and takes metabolic energy away from your brain (which is probably running a mile a minute) and diverts it towards your stomach to help you digest. When I drink camomille tea I know it’s impossible to stay awake.
Hope this is helpful!
As others have stated, exercise and exhausting yourself play a huge part in how quickly you fall asleep. The more energy you have, the more your body doesn’t feel like it needs to sleep to regenerate. Even with exhaustion though, sometimes it’s difficult to fall asleep if paranoia, anxiety, or exterior sounds outside of your control are bothering you. Chamomile tea is also fantastic, and I always drink a large glass of cold water before bed to hydrate my systems one last time.
My solution to that is Solfeggio frequencies! If you have access to internet or can download the content, Solfeggio frequencies are my newfound sleepaid. Here’s the best explanation to them I found: https://attunedvibrations.com/solfeggio/ . I refer back to it all the time. My favorite tone to listen to is 417, I’ve grown so accustomed to that light hum that I successfully fall asleep within 10-minutes of playing, even when my roommates are screaming at each other.
I’ve found that whenever I’m in a new place, it helps to replicate the sleep environment I’m used to. At home I sleep with a fan by my bed for white noise, so whenever I travel, I either turn on the AC’s fan function, or listen to a white noise app. This can also help drown out disruptive street sounds.
This second solution might sound obvious, though some might find it unwise. Go out and have a few drinks. It’ll help facilitate a fun night in a new city, and then knock you out once the night’s over. I find it particularly useful when it comes to jet lag. Traveling overnight from the U.S. to Europe, I always have too much adrenaline to sleep when I arrive. A few drinks makes me sleep like a rock, and also helps correct my sleep schedule.
dim lights when possible
turn off tv -/set night mode on devices
make some chamomille tea (put it on thermos)
put on some music, like lo fi chill
write about the day ,just a quick account, plus 3 good things that happened
read for a while (kindle or paper)
listen to a podcast ( I have a set of night-time ones like the bridge and welcome to nightvale) to wind down
move on to music or a sleep-time podcast like sleep with me. (sleep with me is a saviour. it’s basically white noise and puts me right out)