Travelling can be tough on your sleep patterns, among other things. Sleeping in unfamiliar places at the wrong time of the day can be hard or near impossible. If you’re someone that doesn’t rest well on a plane it can be even worse for the first day or two of any trip with a flight over 6 hours. Here are 5 tips to maximize sleep while travelling.
1 – Watch what you eat
Stay away from sugary foods, which will just give you a high and a crash, making you feel tired and icky. Aim for high protein foods and try to stay away from heavy food like red meat, or grains. These things are time-consuming and energy draining for your body to digest.
2 – Don’t drink alcohol
Now I’m not saying don’t enjoy a glass of wine or beer whenever is reasonable. But on the plane, don’t touch the stuff. Alcohol will dehydrate your body, make you groggy and ultimately reduce the quality of sleep you will receive when you do sleep as well as make you feel bad before, during and after. Hold off on the mass consumption of booze until the second day of your trip. You can purchase a reusable and easy to carry bottle that you can fill up after security to ensure you’ve always got a good supply wherever you are. Vapur makes several sizes, shapes and colours.
3 – Adjust your clocks
As soon as you get on your flight, adjust your watch and phone to the destination time zone. This way when you look at the time you will mentally start preparing yourself for that time zone.
4 – Operate in the correct time zone
Once you arrive at your destination, continue your day or night as you would in that place. If you’ve arrived in Frankfurt at 2 pm go out, enjoy the afternoon, distract yourself from your exhausting until it’s time for bed, I usually aim to stay up till 7 or 8 pm in this case. After a good healthy dinner, I’m ready to crash and sleep well through the night.
5 – Keep naps to a minimum
If you arrive at your destination and you need to nap, do it, but don’t let yourself sleep for more than 20 or 30 minutes. Beyond that, you’ll start to mess up your sleep cycle, and you need to switch to your new day/night schedule. So don’t get to the hotel and knock out for 8 hours, waking up in the middle of the night, you won’t help yourself at all.
If you have trouble sleeping on flights check out my 4 Awesome Tips to Make Your Flight Better if you can’t sleep you can at least be as comfortable as possible. Sungflight.net will help you see which side of the plane is the sunny side, so you can at least try and put yourself in a darker space to rest.
If you’re moving through time zones to an extreme, +/-12 hours you may want to consider getting a head start. Jet Lag Rooster will instantly build a schedule for you to start adjusting days before you even depart.
Things to Take With You
Whether I use them or not I always travel with a small tin filled with a melange of useful pills. Not having to worry about finding a drug store in a foreign land will be a lifesaver if you actually need any of these things. In addition to your personal travelling pharmacy there are a number of other ‘nice to haves’ you’ll be happy you just have with you.
- Pain pills – make sure you have a small collection of your favourite pain pills. After a long flight and a lot of effort, your body may be sore, reducing swelling and pain will help you sleep better when it comes time to hit the hay.
- Melatonin – if you need a bit of extra help to get to sleep try melatonin. available in various dosages (I use 10mg) this will help put your body into sleep mode if you need that extra boost to shift your sleep patterns.
- Sleep mask – you may not get total darkness on your flight, in your hotel or anywhere else you want to catch a few Z’s. So make sure you have a sleep mask. Most international flights will give this to you in your amenity kit, if not you can grab one on Amazon for a few dollars.
- Earplugs – again, you’ll get these in an amenity kit, but if you don’t get one of those make sure you’ve got yourself a couple pairs since they seem to almost always go missing along the way. Amazon is your friend for this one again.