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Sleep Tips for Travel

Traveling is tough on the internal clock, and dealing with grogginess or exhaustion during a trip can be a drag. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, managing your sleep cycle is key to staying sharp – both mentally and physically.

The best way to maintain a healthy sleep pattern is to start modifying your habits before you leave. Here are a few tips to follow before your trip, while en route, and once you land to sleep better.

Why is this so important?  The answer is Deep Sleep!

Pre-Trip Tips

Get ahead of the game and make minor adjustments to prepare for a healthy sleep cycle during your trip.

* Gradually Adjust Your Bedtime

If you’re traveling to a different time zone, prepare your body for the shift in sleep schedule. While the body is built to handle a lot of changes, gradual adjustments are always less stressful than sudden shocks to the system. If your destination is several hours ahead, advance your bedtime by an hour prior to your trip. Vice versa for destinations that are behind your current time zone.

* Exercise Prior to Trip

Long journey ahead? Chances are, you’ll be sitting around for hours on end. Get your energy out in advance so that this waiting time feels restful instead of making you stir crazy. The morning of, or the day before, exercise should be focused on cardio only – not strength training, which can cause achy muscles to feel extra sore when sitting still during travel.

In-Transit Tips

Whether traveling by train, plane, or automobile, these tips can help you catch a few Zzz’s on the go.

* Avoid Caffeine While Waiting

As tempting as a coffee stand can be while making your way to the terminal, resist drinking caffeinated beverages if you plan to nap during your trip.

* Bring the Accessories

No matter how badly you need some shut-eye on a red-eye, it will never be worth it if you wake up with a massive kink in your neck! Whatever items help you sleep more comfortably – neck support, eye pillow, earbuds with soothing music – pack these goodies with you and keep them close by.

* Secure Your Luggage Properly

Long trips – especially by train or bus – may require storing your bags in a communal space, such as a shared luggage compartment. If you’re worried about someone sneaking into your bag while you’re napping, choose a bag with a proper lock. The peace of mind will do wonders for your ability to snooze peacefully.

On-Location Tips

Once the eagle has landed, keep the healthy sleep habits going with these tips.

* Let Sunlight Reset Your Internal Clock

Still adjusting to the time change? Exposure to sunlight can be a massive cue for the body to trigger wakefulness. Get outside and soak up the sunshine!

* Exercise in the Morning

Morning exercise can also jumpstart the body’s wakefulness cycle and help you stay more focused and alert for the rest of the day.

* Take Melatonin, If Needed

Finally, if you’re still struggling to drift off at nighttime, take an over-the-counter melatonin tablet- 3 mg is plenty. Melatonin helps the body wind down and get into sleep-mode more naturally than other jet lag antidotes.

(Psst….more about Natural Sleep Aids!)

Happy travels!

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Dr. Candice Seti


California-licensed Clinical Psychologist, Certified Nutrition Coach, and Certified Personal Trainer

Dr. Candice Seti

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