Insomnia

10 Tips for Better Sleep While Traveling

Amanda Page Aug 8th, 2014 (updated Nov 5th, 2015)
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Many people look forward to traveling for the holidays to visit friends and family. But traveling can often wreak havoc on sleep quality. Here are 10 tips for catching Z’s while on the run.

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Book hotels with sleep amenities
Book hotels with sleep amenities

Some hotels are going above and beyond to ensure you sleep better than at home. The Lorien Hotel & Spa in Alexandria, VA, has a dream menu with a variety of items to enhance your sleep, including aromatherapy diffusers, memory foam neck pillows, water pillows, nightlights and even a heating pad.  Finding a hotel that meets your sleep needs in advance sets you up for travel sleep health success. 

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Stock up on B vitamins
Stock up on B vitamins

To maintain alertness when traveling and to avoid jetlag, take a well-balanced B vitamin supplement. Look for a supplement with vitamins B6, B12 and riboflavin, along with vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and chromium to help fight off the effects of stress and fatigue while boosting the body’s immune system.  

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Earplugs
Earplugs

You never know what sort of sound levels you are in for, from the plane, to the hotel, to even lying by a pool. Earplugs are a small item to pack and can help you reach a mental state of nirvana just about anywhere. If you forget earplugs, a good backup is a pair of noise-cancelling headphones that allow you to tune out to some soothing music.  

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Sleep mask
Sleep mask

Whether you are traveling in bright conditions or need to cancel out an overhead plane light, a sleep mask is a comfortable way to block out unwanted light. Look for one that is adjustable without using irritating Velcro, is light weight and thoroughly blocks out all light. Check out the Magellan Good Night Sleep Mask for a highly rated and affordable option. 

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Inflatable neck pillow
Inflatable neck pillow

There are a lot of travel cushion options out there, but an inflatable neck pillow is easy to transport and will come in handy when trying to catch some sleep in uncomfortable places. A neck pillow will help ease discomfort from sleeping upright and will minimize the risk of waking up with your head on a helpless stranger’s shoulder.  

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Melatonin supplements
Melatonin supplements

Melatonin is a brain hormone that helps control the body’s circadian rhythm. The amount of melatonin secreted is relative to the amount of light there is. A study from the British Medical Journal found that taking melatonin tablets can help travelers restore normal sleeping patterns after jumping time zones. Consult your doctor about supplementing with synthetic melatonin. 

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Stick to the local time
Stick to the local time

When you feel jetlagged in a new time zone, resist the temptation to take a long nap during the day. This will just prolong the effects of jetlag and leave you unable to sleep when night arrives. Immediately get your eating and exercise habits in line with the new time zone. Eating three meals a day and getting an hour of cardio in will help your body adjust quicker.  

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Avoid working out close to bedtime
Avoid working out close to bedtime

When your circadian rhythm is out of whack, you may feel like exercising at odd times. Stick to the local time and avoid exercising within two hours before bedtime. Exercise stimulates the brain and gets your blood flowing, making it harder to wind down and relax.   

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White noise machine
White noise machine

Time change or not, sleeping in a new place can feel strange. Try using a white noise machine to help focus your attention without stimulating your brain. White noise is the sound produced when all possible sound frequencies are played at once. It is a pitch-less droning hiss sound. Some machines use other types of background noise like ocean waves to help you drift off to sleep in a meditative way. 

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Bring the scent of home
Bring the scent of home

Bring your favorite scented candle from home with you on vacation. Before bed, enjoy a relaxing bath or moment of meditation near your familiar candle, diffuser or perfume. This will help you relax and relive the comforts of home in a new place.