Airports. Rental Cars. Terminals. Shuttle Busses. Hotels. Late Night Dining. Ah, the things that make our travel memorable. Isn’t it rather peculiar how some of the most memorable moments of vacation are the logistical mechanics as opposed to the fun family memories you would suspect would reverberate through your mind? Of all things, one thing is most memorable for the average traveler: lack of quality sleep. But why?
Issues With Sleeping Away From Home
So many new smells, foreign textures, weird sounds, and a general sense of unfamiliarity lead to an overall sense of insecurity and vulnerability. Which manifests as stress and anxiety. The feeling of anxiousness stems from excess cortisol being built up in the body. But, how do you get a better night’s sleep while traveling?
One way to not feel so out of sorts in your new environment is to bring some comforts of home with you. Optimize your space by bringing items such as the quilt grandma knitted you for your 12th Christmas, or your favorite family photos. This will help you to feel more at home and less at ease.
Edit your room environment to fit your nighttime needs. When you get to your hotel room be sure to test out the mattress and see if you need to request more pillows or blankets from room service before turning in for the night. Having a comfy place to lay will increase the possibility of resting well. To help your body readjust to the new time zone aim to sleep in total darkness. Turn off all the lights and put away electronics when it’s finally time to hit the hay. Don’t forget a sleeping mask and earplugs in case you have noisy neighbors or a restless roommate. Cover that stressor before you take off.
What are simple measures to help you minimize stress and anxiety?
Here’s a trendy suggestion: essential oils. Lavender essential oil is one of the most commonly used therapeutic measures for relieving stress and anxiety1. It’s an ancient practice and most people see great success when using it. It’s also antimicrobial! Essential oil bottles are typically sold in TSA-friendly quantities and there are many innovative ways to diffuse them that can fit right in your pocket. It would be a good idea to invest in a wall socket/USB port diffuser before you leave for your destination.
Another method of limiting stress levels is through getting out in nature. Try to plan at least 10 minutes of walking in nature whether in a forest or a city park. Health experts suggest spending time outdoors helps your body and mind relax2. Eating healthy and exercising can also lessen the effects of stress on your body and help your body adjust to your new environment. This might not be the time to stay up eating pizza every night if you truly want restful, relaxing sleep.
Adjusting Your Time Schedule
The pineal gland. Though it may be small (literally pea-sized) and externally undetectable it has a major role in your ability to perceive and adjust to time. You’ve probably heard of something called a circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythms are defined by The National Institute of Health as being the physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle and are affected by how much light you are exposed to3. Circadian rhythm is also regulated by a hormone produced by the pineal gland called pineal melatonin, which is affected by daylight exposure4. All these things work together to help your body make sense of time and time spacing throughout the day. When most people travel they cross at least one time zone. When you enter a new time zone your body has to adjust to sunrise and sunset times it’s not accustomed to. This throws your circadian rhythm and causes you to have that ‘jet lag’ feeling.
According to Healthline, If you have any of the following symptoms you might be experiencing jet lag: headache, fatigue, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, lack of appetite, or gastrointestinal issues5. None of those things will help you sleep well.
One major remedial method for helping to lessen jet lag symptoms is managing your time. Manage your time throughout the day to make sure you can get to bed at the right hour to get enough sleep to function. Your internal clock is already going to be thrown off sorts, so be sure to stick as close to a schedule as possible.
Be sure to stay organized so you can complete everything you desire at your destination without any FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). No need to add any FOMO stress to your vacation. Restful sleep is possible on vacation. Be sure to make the necessary changes in every area of your life to guarantee a good night’s sleep while you’re away from home.