Travel Tips: How to Get the Best Sleep While Travelling

The secrets to getting more shut eye while jet-setting around the world (and how to beat jet lag once and for all).


Getting more shut eye while travelling can be tricky, but i can be done! Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock Images.

Getting more shut eye while travelling can be tricky, but it can be done! Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock Images.

What’s the one thing that every traveller has to deal with while no matter where in the world they are? Sleep. Whether you’re battling the dreaded jet lag, or just can’t get a solid set of Zzzs in a hotel bed, finding those precious hours of sleep can be the hardest part of travelling. Thankfully there are actual sleep specialists out there who can help us get our sleep on track (without having to hit the snooze button 50 times – yes, we’ve done that before). Toronto-based health and wellness expert Gary Leblanc (and CEO of Ikkuma Inc.) shares his tips for getting the most shut eye possible on your next trip.

Start With You Sleep Habits

Before you even pack your bags and dream about jetting off, strong sleep habits while you’re at home are essential and will set you up for a better sleep while away. Leblanc has five ways to become a better sleeper.

1. Create a bedtime ritual (think meditating). Our hectic lives often have us dealing with excess stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. Time to wind down is key to promptly falling asleep. Meditating positively affects every part of your health, including sleep. Recreational reading is another popular alternative.

2. Completely black-out your bedroom. Regardless of your specific sleep cycle, eliminate outdoor sunlight as a variable to worry about. Make your bedroom pitch black to foster an optimal sleep environment.

3. Avoid drinking water within two hours of going to bed. Your first few nights of sleep may be more restless than usual. If you get up during the night, it may be hard to get back to sleep. Avoiding water before bed will reduce the chances that you get up throughout the night.

4. Avoid bright artificial lights before bed. Your sleep hormone (melatonin) can be suppressed for up to 90 minutes when you are exposed to bright lights. Give yourself a fighting chance to fall asleep by switching off 2 hours before bed.

5. Avoid sleeping on your stomach. Sleeping on your stomach creates the long-term potential for back pain. Sleep on your back or your side. If you sleep on your side, be aware that it may accelerate the production of wrinkles. To really wake up looking as good as you feel, try applying a night treatment. Leblanc likes using Refresh Botanicals Night Restore Complex before bed to wake up with a refreshed look as it helps diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and the whole line is all-natural, so you can feel good about using the product.

Prep For Jet Lag

Jet lag is a combination of disrupting your sleep cycles and the fatigue of the actual journey. When you travel to different time zones, the shift in your sleep cycle is confusing for the body. A good estimate is for every one hour of time-change, you need about one day to adjust,” explains Leblanc. “For example, if you’re going to be travelling through three time zones, you can adjust your sleep by one hour a day for three days before you leave. It’s always tricky to time these things and it also depends on how long you will be in the new destination. Sometimes it’s better to stick to your normal sleep times if you’ll only be gone for a day or two.”

Stick To Your Bedtime Habits

“Sticking to your typical habits as much as possible is definitely the goal,” says Leblanc. But as we all know, schedules can change drastically while travelling. ”Stressing over maintaining your EXACT routine can be counterproductive. There are some simple things you can always do while on the road, such as blacking out the room and avoiding water and electronics within two hours of bedtime.”

Getting Sleep on Your Flight (Seriously, It Can Happen!)

This may seem like a mystery for most (save for taking medication), but Leblanc’s tips can help you snooze more comfortably on your next flight. “The biggest challenge on a plane is to eliminate noise in all its forms, i.e. light, auditory noise, and movement,” explains Leblanc. “So, wearing earplugs and using an eye mask is key. To help relieve any residual tension from travelling, it also wouldn’t hurt to have a glass of wine before bed.”

Prep For Your New Time Z one

“If you didn’t prepare your body for the time change before you left, then you can apply the same principles to adjust to the time change after you arrive,” says Leblanc. Think about adjusting your sleep cycle by one hour per day for every hour of time shift. “If the time change is over three-four hours, you may just need to bite the bullet and force yourself on the local sleep schedule as quickly as possible by fighting through fatigue for a day or so. Ensure you’re well hydrated and avoid inflammatory foods, such as fast food and processed food. Giving your body the fuel it needs will ensure your energy levels are at their max.”

Fall Asleep Quickly

“If you’re travelling, it is especially important to get in some moderate exercise for the first few days of the trip (if not every day),” stresses Leblanc. “Studies have shown that regular exercise helps people sleep an extra 45 minutes per night, much more effective than sleep aids. Exercising calms both the body and mind. But make sure to avoid exercising after 7 pm, as that may stimulate you a little too much before bed.”

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