Ways Traveling Can Affect Your Sleep
If you’re planning a vacation or any overnight travels, it’s possible you may not be well-rested every single day. That’s because traveling can mess with your sleep! From jet lag, unfamiliar food and activities, to simply sleeping in a new environment, there are a few factors that can hinder your ability to fall asleep at the perfect time for the next day’s adventures.
This doesn’t mean you immediately need to back out of your adventuring plans and just stay home with your usual plans. These sleep issues happen all the time and aren’t undefeatable. However, it’s still important to stay conscious of multiple ways that traveling can affect your sleep:
1. Jet lag.
This is one of the factors you’ll hear the most. It’s why your friends will respond to your messages at 4 AM while they’re off on a remote island — as in 4 AM in their time.
Jet lag has nothing to do with the jet itself, but rather the lack of adjustment of your internal clock between different time zones. For example, if you’ve just landed in Miami on the east coast from San Francisco on the west, the local time’s three hours ahead. It’ll be midnight when your internal clock still says 9 pm, which means most of the locals are falling asleep but you aren’t. Your body’s still wired to the sunrise and sunset patterns of San Francisco on the other side of the country.
To help counter jet lag, bring melatonin supplements with you if you’re traveling east and schedule your plane rides to arrive at a time where you’ll have time to adjust.
2. An unfamiliar room.
Even if your new hotel room is stocked with a premium memory foam mattress, a view of the city skyline, and cotton sheets to die for, many people will find it harder to fall asleep in such a room if it’s the first night. That’s because the body hasn’t adjusted to a new environment and part of the brain is still active to monitor new threats. It’s a primitive survival tactic developed in ancient times.
To prevent this effect from putting a damper on any big plans, try to see if you can fly in two nights before. See if you can keep everything else as similar as possible, such as your nighttime routine and what you wear to sleep. You can also see if you can cover up any unfamiliar noises with apps that can help you fall asleep, as many of them can play white noise or relaxing sounds of nature.
3. Allergies and allergy medication.
Many new environments carry a lot of pathogens and allergens your body isn’t used to, particularly if you’re coming from a dry northern climate to a tropical southern one. The medications that follow can induce drowsiness, which isn’t so bad if you need a little help sleeping earlier but not so great if your internal clock already has you sleeping ahead of the locals.
4. Blame it on the alcohol.
A lot of vacations are spiced up by the presence of exotic alcoholic beverages flavored by unpronounceable ingredients you’ve never heard of before. After all, they’re a great way to let loose at the parties with those scenic views or those nightclubs you’ve seen on TV.
If you already drink alcohol at home, you’ve probably noticed yourself waking up at unusual times after a night of heavy drinking, unable to drift back into sleep. It’s true that alcohol can be tempting at those vacation parties, especially if they’re at the hottest local clubs or on a yacht, but you might want to hold back if you’ve got an important commitment the day after. Hold a glass with a non-alcoholic beverage in it at the party so others are less likely to offer you a drink.
5. When traveling gets stressful.
Traveling is generally associated with adventures and fun, but even the most luxurious getaway can potentially induce a handful of stressors. From airports losing your luggage, unpleasant cultural shocks, harsh weather conditions you’re unacclimated to such as humidity, language barriers, flight delays, and a variety of expected or unexpected factors.
We all know that stress makes it much harder to sleep, no matter where in the world you are. It’s hard to sleep when your mind is replaying embarrassing cultural missteps you made earlier in the day! So for this one, see what you can do to prevent any potentially stressful events from occurring. Label your items, brush up on key phrases in the local language, learn common cultural norms — whatever you think it’ll take to smoothly transition.
One major refresher when traveling is when you get the opportunity to sleep in a more comfortable bed than usual, such as one with a cooling memory foam mattress or even a memory foam pillow. If you’re hosting travelers, one way to delight them would be to invest in quality bedding, such as Lull’s premium memory foam mattress, duvets, pillows, sheets, and more! Our products are hypoallergenic and durable, lasting through several rounds of travelers from all over the world.