Effective Suggestions for Avoiding Travel Insomnia

We’ve all been on trips for either business or pleasure and after a long day of traveling to your destination, all you look forward to is a hot shower or bath, a light meal, and the comfort of a peaceful night’s rejuvenating sleep.

Now you are finally ensconced in your hotel room and as the night wears on and darkness descends, you become aware of all the invading noises and cracks of light that play havoc with your time to rest. To boot, you are likely dealing with jet lag and the effects of crossing multiple time zones. We all know this throws off our circadian rhythm.

Here is how to make the best of a trip and get the best sleep possible. It is generally wise to plan ahead. In terms of dealing with the time zone change and the effects on your circadian rhythm, it is always best to take two to three nights ahead of flying and start going to bed in the time zone you are headed to. In other words, you are attempting to reset your biological clock, so that when you arrive at your destination you are already sleeping and waking in a new zone. Few actually do this, but if you are a light, sensitive sleeper, it’s always best to adapt ahead of time. It will save you much grief on the other end.

If you find that challenging to do, start your pre-sleep routine just that much earlier. Begin your meditation and relaxation pre-bed routine one-half hour earlier the first night and then an hour ahead the next night. Remember to adjust your morning rising time to accommodate the challenges of arrival, particularly if traveling eastward. The reverse is true for traveling westward – stay up later – get up later. It’s always easier traveling west than east.

If space allows, pack your own pillow. Recognizing the comfort of your own things while in a hotel room helps to encourage your ongoing restfulness.

Of course, having a quiet hotel room is essential. Pack your own earplugs. Make sure you have worn them ahead of time so you are used to them. The sound gets muffled but not totally eliminated (which would be a hazard in the case of an alarm). You need to be able to hear some noises. Earplugs help to mitigate all the strange sounds a hotel room will no doubt have.

Along with earplugs, you may want to consider toting your portable CD player or iPod. Bring along some peaceful, relaxing music or one or two of your meditation CDs. Having these comforting sounds with you not only reminds you of home but also when the headset is on it also helps to muffle strange hotel noises.

When you arrive at your destination hotel, always request a quiet room – away from the freeway side of the hotel and away from the ding of the elevators and the clunking sound of the ice machine.

If possible, get a hotel that has operational windows. Fresh air is always more conducive to restful sleep than air conditioning. When air conditioning blows on you it creates an artificial environment and generally stuffs up your sinuses. Keep the room temperature 68 degrees or lower. Too hot and you will never slay asleep. Our bodies naturally prefer to be cool at night.

If you like essential oils, bring a small sachet scented with lavender oil. Lavender oil has been used for centuries to calm the body and mind. Place it on the pillow or nightstand next to you to help create a calming relaxing form of mind.

Always check the hotel room clock radio and alarm set to make sure it is in the ‘off position. Inevitably the cleaning maid may have knocked the alarm to the ‘on’ position or it may have remained in that position by the last hotel guest in that room. Don’t be awoken by the shrill blare of the buzzer alarm when you are dead asleep and need your rest.

Always make sure you turn off the phone ringer. It’s conceivable that you may receive a 4:30 AM wake-up call for the previous guest. Better to be safe than sorry.

To block the inevitable light of the hallway, consider just simply stuffing a towel at the bottom of the door. And make sure the drapes completely overlap from one side to the other so as to prevent morning light from seeping in. Light and sound are the two enemies of sleeping soundly.

Also, make sure you hang out the ‘Do Not Disturb’ door sign the night before. This way the hotel maid will not knock early in the morning wondering if you are still in your room.

If it’s late at night and you are starving and a meal is in order, make sure you make it a light meal such as soup and salad, a small sandwich, or even an appetizer rather than a huge full meal. Eating too much too late will end up being digested all night and likely prevent falling asleep or perhaps a digesting meal will wake you up. Consider having a cup of warm milk and if possible, ask for a teaspoon of vanilla and sugar to be added. All contribute to boosting the serotonin level in your brain, which helps with the onset of sleep. Avoid alcohol and cigarettes, as they are both stimulants.

And one last note. If there seems to be too much noise and rowdiness in a room next to you or even down the hallway, make sure you call the front desk and let them know. No one likes to wake up to the sound of a blaring TV or party revelers invading your sleep. I was once in a hotel room in Indiana where a basketball team had been playing and now staying in the same convention hotel as I was. Come midnight after their win and much partying, they started shooting ‘baskets’ down the hallway. Fun for them, but the rest of us suffered until security came and curtailed their partying. All hotels have a nighttime curfew usually 10 or 11 PM and if others are disturbing your peace, you have a right to inform the front desk. Don’t complain. Just state the facts calmly. They usually send up security immediately to rectify the situation. You have hotel rights too.

Sleep tight while traveling.