10 Little-Known Tricks for Perfect Sleep on a Flight
Sleep Well While You Travel
Many people find it difficult to get a good night's sleep away from the comfort of their own bed. But certain sleep aids and techniques can help you get needed rest on the road.
By Krisha McCoy
Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
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Adults require about seven to eight hours of sleep each night to function at their optimal level. When you’re traveling, it can be difficult to meet this requirement. Just being away from your own bed and familiar surroundings can make it hard to sleep. And if you are crossing time zones, the disruption to your body clock can leave you with symptoms of jet lag, which occurs when you have trouble adjusting to a new schedule and a change in daylight hours. Sleep aid tips can help you get the rest you need for travel health and enjoyment.
Spotting Sleeping Problems
Symptoms of sleep deprivation and jet lag include:
- Body fatigue
- Trouble staying awake during the day
- Digestive problems
- Unstable blood pressure
- Difficulty concentrating
- Slowed reaction time
- Changes in judgment
To avoid or overcome these symptoms, try strategies that help you get the rest you need while traveling to your destination and once you get there.
Relaxing on a Plane, Train, or Bus
Traveling on a plane, train, or bus for a long period of time can be uncomfortable and not conducive to sleep.
Try these sleep aids to get some rest during your journey:
- Block out light.Use a sleep mask to block out light and make it easier for you to sleep.
- Reduce noise.The noise of a plane or bus engine along with the people around you can keep you up. Earplugs or noise-canceling headphones can block out sounds and promote sleep.
- Bring your own sleep aids.To help make yourself comfortable enough to fall asleep, especially in an upright position, bring a neck pillow to support your head and a blanket to remind you of your home environment.
Keep in mind that it is especially important to rest on the way to your destination if it is going to be daytime when you arrive. However, if you will be arriving in the evening or at night, it’s best to stay awake so that you will want to go to sleep when you get there.
Getting Good Sleep at Your Hotel
Not everyone is able to sleep well at a hotel. Unfamiliar surroundings, noise, a new bed, the altitude, and the local climate can keep you from getting the sleep you need.
Try these sleep aid strategies for restful sleep:
- Stick to your regular sleep schedule.When possible, go to sleep and wake up at the same times you would at home.
- Pack your workout shoes.Exercising for as little as 20 to 30 minutes during the day can make it easier for you to fall asleep at bedtime. Just try to exercise at least five hours before lights out, since working out too close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep.
- Bring along the comforts of home.Your favorite pillow is one of the best sleep aids you can have, along with the blanket you used on your way to your destination.
- Set the scene.Before hitting the sack, look around the room and make needed adjustments, such as closing the curtains, turning off a dripping faucet, and changing the thermostat, to make your sleep environment as comfortable as possible.
- Turn off your phone.Before you turn out the lights, turn off your cell and ask the front desk to route any calls to voicemail so that your sleep will not be disturbed.
- Use white noise.If the unfamiliar sounds of a hotel keep you awake, consider bringing along a machine that plays white noise to block out distracting sounds.
- Talk with your doctor.If the above strategies are not enough to allow you to sleep comfortably on the road, talk with your doctor about whether temporarily using prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids might help.
Your body needs a full rest every night to function properly and enable you to enjoy your trip. For the best travel health, use these strategies to get the sleep you need and make the most of your time away.
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