Whether you are heading out on a business trip or taking the whole family on a road trip vacation, traveling is exciting. You never know what adventures await you, from the hustle and bustle of the airport or the music you’re jamming to on your car ride to the mystery of what you’ll see at your final destination.
No matter how much you anticipate your trip and the wonders you’ll explore, though, if you don’t get to sleep while you’re traveling, it’s going to impact your mood.
Even one night of missed sleep is enough to make the average person irritable, forgetful, and fatigued the next day. When you’re wandering around a new place or sitting in a business meeting, those are not feelings you want to be dealing with.
Instead, a bit of forethought into your travel preparations can help you avoid the struggles that come with tossing and turning all night. Here are 4 reasons people tend to have trouble sleeping when they’re traveling and how to get a good night’s sleep anyway.
Why is Traveler’s Fatigue Such a Thing?
Seriously. Google it – “traveler’s fatigue” is a common syndrome for people who journey outside of their normal environment for more than a day or two. You might feel it immediately after your first leg of the trip or it may kick in once you’ve gotten back home, but it will happen if you are not careful with your habits while you’re away.
There are many reasons why you might have trouble sleeping while you’re traveling. If this is a common problem, consider the following causes and solutions:
- Our diets tend to change while we are on the road. Whether you’re in an airport stuck waiting for your flight, on the road tempted by greasy fast food places and gas station snacks the whole way, or splurging on delectable meals at restaurants you don’t normally get to visit, your meals aren’t typically the same when you’re traveling as what you are used to.
Your body isn’t going to complain right away. In fact, your taste buds may even be rejoicing at the time of your meal. But later, and frequently while you sleep, your digestive system is going to be paying for those lapses in your better eating judgment.
Instead of opting for caffeinated beverages, sugary snacks, and greasy grab-and-gos, plan ahead. If you have a chance to hit a local store when you get to your destination and stock up on staples to cook on your trip, you only need to plan to feed you and your crew for as long as your transportation takes.
A small cooler with water, fruits, sandwiches, and healthy snacks is perfect for road trips. If you’re flying, skip the liquids, but foods are usually allowed through the security gates.
- The bed at your hotel/AirBnB/other destination is uncomfortable. No matter how upscale the room, if your bed is not comfortable, you’re not going to sleep well. You might think there’s nothing much you can do about this, but that’s not quite true.
If you booked online, the hotel may tell you what beds it uses. They’re usually the same mattresses throughout the entire building. If not, you can shoot an email or pick up the phone and ask. Eachnight.com considers memory foam mattresses a typically a safe bet for most people. Once you learn of a mattress you don’t like, avoid those at all costs.
- Your brain is on high alert. Some people can’t relax well in an unknown environment. They are on the alert for potential dangers at all times. Other people are just so excited about their sightseeing and adventures that they can’t shut their brain off.
Sound familiar? Again, planning ahead can help you with this problem. A few simple tweaks in your day lets your brain begin to relax earlier. Avoid caffeine after lunch, turn off your social media scrolling and TV watching at least two hours before bed, and if you can get some exercise in during that time, your brain is more likely to be tired enough to sleep. If all else fails, try some natural supplements for calming your body or download a sleep app.
- Consider your time zone ahead. If you’re changing your time zone for more than an hour, you should acclimate your body prior to the day of travel. Starting two or three days before your trip, get up an hour earlier and go to bed earlier if you are moving into a time zone that will require an earlier start than you are used to, or later if it’s the opposite. This prevents jet lag and lets you enjoy your vacation.
A Little Planning Now Makes for Less Stress Later
Waiting until the last minute to prepare for a trip longer than one day is setting yourself up for problems. You may forget to pack important items or rush at the last minute and leave stressed out. Instead, prepare a few days ahead and think about the possible issues that may come up – like sleep loss.
You can avoid the likelihood of a restless night’s sleep by some basic meal prep and a few changes in your daily habits ahead of time. You’re going awesome places – be sure to rest so you can enjoy them!