Travel is a super stressful activity at the best of times. All you want to do is feel your toes on the white sands of the Seychelles, or take that snap in front of the Eiffel Tower – but the thought of losing sleep when travelling can send your anxiety sky high.
Whether it’s that 5am flight, or the seemingly never-ending jet lag you’re dreading, let us (eve, the sleep aficionados) and our panel of experts, lessen your worry and guide you to a peaceful travelling slumber with these quick and easy sleep tips…
bring the essentials
Packing your hand luggage for a fight can we a real faff, you always end up missing something that three hours into a flight, you want to cry over and packing way too many items that you don’t even touch. So, what are the essentials that will make your sky-high snooze effective as possible?
Anna Hart, a travel writer and former Travel Editor of Stylist explains:
“Noise-cancelling head phones are necessary and they make you a better human if you don’t hate everything around you. That’s the device that’s changed my life. I don’t bother with makeup but I like brushing my teeth on a flight with my Sonicare. Also travelling with a paper book because you can get too screened out if you watch a couple of movies or frantically do emails.”
And Christine Hanson, sleep expert and author of Sleep Like A Boss adds: “My essentials are a sleep mask and earplugs. If you haven’t done that yet the that’s the first thing to do, it makes a massive difference. But remember some people just can’t sleep on a plane and, unfortunately, there isn’t magic to change that.”
be careful what you have on the plane…
Most people can’t wait to get on a plane to enjoy the endless free food and alcohol, followed by a booze induced nap. But it turns out that everything you thought about alcohol and food helping you kip was possible wrong.
Anna has a pretty radical way of approaching food and long-haul flights: “If the time difference is less than four or five, so nothing major, I just relax on the flight. I eat, drink and be merry, enjoy the flight, watch a movie and just power through for a few extra hours when I get where I’m going.
“However, if it’s long distance flight like flying back from LA then I get very strict. No booze, I change my watch as soon as I get on board and recently discovered this pretty gnarly practise of fasting. So, I don’t eat on the plane or for a few hours before. I think you can help your body with the bigger time difference by passing up on the chicken supreme and red wine and just arriving a bit fresher.”
And Christine’s advice is to nix the booze too. She says:
“It dehydrates for a start and then it messes with your sleep phases and you won’t get effective deep sleep. There are loads of reasons why it can help you drift to sleep, because it can help relax you, but it’s not going to give you quality sleep.”
avoid the night with children
It seems logical that if you’re travelling with small children that they’ll keep the crying to a minimum if you travel at night when they’re usually dreaming. But Christine insists that this might not be the case.
She explains: “So actually especially with babies if you can book your flight this way, it’s wiser to book during the day time because they are awake during the day time anyway. So if you mess up their night, you have a child that’s sleep deprived for a day and night.”
prepare for jet lag
Jet lag is inevitable when you’re travelling long distances and while you can’t avoid it. But there are tips for easing the pain as much as you can. Christine suggests: “There are things you can do if you travel for business and you have a meeting and you need to be super sharp for and use your brainpower.”
“If you prepare in advance, the rule of thumb is one day for two time zones. If something is a 12-hour difference, then ideally it would take six days to acclimatise. So, two hours the first day, four hours the next and so forth. So, if you have a meeting in Singapore you can calculate and reverse engineer when you start and calculate how many days in advance would you have to shift going to bed.”
keep it neat
Hotel rooms are a nice break from being an adult. You are cleaned up after and you can revert back to being a teenager and dump your stuff all over the shop. But Anna says that this will actually affect your quality of sleep. She explains:
“I’ve become a tidy traveller, I didn’t used to be. Hotel rooms can become untidy but it’s actually a very destructive environment. So now I unpack even if it’s just for two nights or I at least shove the suitcase in the wardrobe so your room is clean and clear and very trackable.”
have a routine
If you’re a bad travel sleeper, it can be beyond frustrating to try and get yourself in the mood for snoozing, what with all the jet lag or adrenaline. So, Anna suggests a routine before bed. She says: “I was historically a bad sleeper and now if I don’t sleep well enough I jump through a succession of hoops like cutting out caffeine a midday, exhausting myself by running around for an hour, turning of screen two hours before I go to bed, trying to hypnotise myself. You’re not alone, it’s quite an assault course for me to fall asleep.”