get better night sleep when traveling

How to Get Better Night Sleep When Travelling

Traveling got a lot better

Did you get to see George Clooney in the 2009 drama “Up in the Air”? For some of us, our jobs are exactly like Clooney’s.

Our responsibilities expect us to be up and about five cities in a day.

That can be tiresome and stressful. Others also need to go half the country in just a week for a vacation or a conference. I cannot begin to describe the discomfort in that.

Traveling is a lifestyle disruptor. And one of the lifestyle foundations that is disrupted the most is getting enough sleep. Let me explain.

Sometimes traveling schedules can it rather difficult to sleep. I remember the last holidays I had to wake up at 4 am to catch a flight from Newark to Dallas.


This lack of regular sleep is one of the causes of jet lag. It has so many effects on our health and our productivity.

What does it mean to have a normal sleep?

study published in Nature of Science and Sleep journal characterized a normal sleep in the following ways:

  • Lasts for a sufficient duration
  • Is of good quality
  • Involves appropriate timing and regularity, and 
  • Has the absence of sleep disturbances and disorders. 

But there’s even more. The study goes on to say that lifestyle and environmental factors, psychosocial issues, and medical conditions all contribute to sleep problems. 

“Lifestyle” here refers to the constancy in traveling and how less we sleep.

“All of us have an optimal period when our bodies want to sleep — typically around 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. This is called your ‘circadian window,’” says Charlene Gamaldo, medical director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep. 

“And any time you travel, particularly across two or more time zones, it ends up wreaking havoc on your circadian window,” she says.

According to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than a third of adults don’t get enough sleep (at least seven hours each night).

At the end of this article, we would know how to have a better night sleep when traveling. Grab your backpack and let us fill it with all the necessities to help us sleep better on our next trip.

1. Personalize your room

It could be that you are spending the night in a hotel or motel room, a friend’s place or even in your car. 

The whole point is, you are far from your usual environment where your body is unconsciously used to its environment. 

Due to this, it can cause a certain level of discomfort and restlessness when it is time to sleep. 

It is okay to carry a few things you are very used to seeing and are easy to pack. 


Your favorite bedsheet or pair of socks, a small family picture or your alarm clock. This familiarity makes it feel almost at home and relaxing to fall asleep easily.

2. Leave alcohol out

A Saturday night out with our new friends is a great way to explore the new city. But if you can do it without alcohol, your body might thank you more.

Alcohol deprives us of the 100% quality sleep we are to enjoy. Although alcohol makes us sleepy, it is also a Rapid Eye Movement (REM) inhibitor. 

This means that, even though you will fall asleep, you will not rest the way you are supposed to.

3. Pamper your body

Travelling can drain everything out of you. The frustration that comes with lost luggage, a delayed flight, that loud-chewing-neighbor in the next seat on the flight – all of these can leave you stressed and that alone can steal a better night sleep from you. 

That is too much for your body to handle. Therefore, you need to calm your body down. Consider a spa treatment. The massages, the sauna, and the manicure or pedicure can all go a long way to help you relax and destress.

This kind of relaxation is what will take the body and the mind to a state of complete calmness. Quality sleep will not skip this body for anything.

4. Keep a water bottle

Keeping yourself hydrated is the most important yet most ignored rule of life. Although it turns out that 60 percent of the human adult body is water.

The Journal of Biological Chemistry reports that our brains and hearts are made up of 73 percent water, and the lungs are around 83 percent water.


Here’s the point: we need to drink more water. The hassle in traveling can leave us very dehydrated and insufficient intake of water can cause fatigue. 

And fatigue will deprive you of a better night’s sleep when traveling. Take a water bottle with you wherever you go to keep you hydrated at every second of your day.

Our brains and hearts are made up of 73 percent water, and the lungs are around 83 percent water.

5. Exercise

No matter the purpose of your traveling, be it for vacation or work purposes, making time for exercising is a must. Being active during the day will help you fall asleep faster at night.


If your hotel has a gym, take that opportunity to practice safe CrossFit workouts. Or you can simply go running for a few miles. If possible, take a walk to the bar just around the corner rather than a cab. 

But remember, avoid working out right before bed as this is most likely to keep you awake – the exact opposite of what you want.

6. Stick to your bedtime routine

It is equally good to go exploring after the day’s activities. But in doing that, we must make sure it doesn’t disrupt our sleep routine in any way. 

In most situations, our bodies are used to normal bedtime routines like reading for half an hour before 10 pm. Or taking a warm bath or watching some sitcom just before bedtime. 

All these activities are cues the body recognizes as rituals before sleep. Avoiding them in your new settlement may make it hard to fall asleep and you wouldn’t want that.

If you still have sleep challenges because of distractions in your new environment, consider white noise for better sleep.

7. Brain dump and sleep

It is very common to travel with a lot of activities planned ahead of us and this alone can cause unrest when it is time to sleep.

We take all those unfinished activities to bed and worry about how we are going to get them done. 

Worry no more! Get a sheet of paper and a pen and write down all the unfinished activities. This may seem unrealistic but in doing so, your mind is convinced that you now know what you have to do the next day.


And how to get them done and there is no need worrying; leaving the mind calm; calm enough to get a better night’s sleep. You can also try breathing exercises to help you feel relaxed and sleep better.

8. Turn the clock face around

It could be that you carried your alarm clock along or there is a huge clock that stares at you right from your bed. 

Sleeping in new places can be tedious and leaves you waking up several times before morning. 

And during those times you are awake, you unconsciously look at the clock and the face reads 1:03 AM. Not fun.

The mind concludes that you have only been asleep for a few hours and it’s a long way to go till morning. That alone is enough to keep you anxious and awake all night. 

Just turn your clock face around to prevent all this drama and sleep in peace.

If you wake, it is only a matter of time to fall back asleep; there’s no clock face to keep you up. Next time when you take a trip, remember to use some of these tips to get a better night’s sleep.