Vacations are meant to be a restful and relaxing experience for travelers. However, one of the great ironies of traveling is how it often can completely wreck one’s sleeping schedule. Whether it’s due to jet lag or a strange hotel bed, many find it all but impossible to get a proper night’s sleep, and nothing makes a vacation feel like drudgery more than sleepwalking through a fabulous destination. However, as with many travel problems, millions of sleepy vacationers have found a variety of excellent solutions to help them deal with the challenge of getting decent shut-eye on the road.
Naturally, many of the basics for sleeping well when traveling are the same as those one should cultivate at home. For example, cell phones, laptops, and other screens frequently create bright, daylight-hued light that can completely throw off one’s natural sleep rhythms. Good sleep hygiene is often far easier to maintain by keeping such devices far away from one’s bed, especially noisy smartphones pinging away with e-mail notifications. Likewise, while the idea of having a “nightcap” before bed has long been popular among a certain convivial set, the REM-inhibiting effects of alcohol make it a surefire recipe for poor sleep.
In general, a few steps will go a long way toward improving one’s comfort in a strange hotel bed far from home. The most important step is to bring a piece of home along with you. For instance, a pillowcase from your own bed goes a long way. In addition, any sleep aids you use at home, like a white noise machine or your child’s favorite blanket, will be just as useful abroad. A pair of good earplugs and a high-quality sleep mask can also be a huge help. Whenever possible, try to stick to your usual sleep schedule, a trick that is especially effective for children. Finally, don’t be afraid to seek out sleep on the way to and from your destination when flying. A window seat, travel pillow, and comfortable sweatshirt or blanket will go a long way toward increasing your comfort while in the air.