As a busy entrepreneur growing two businesses, I travel for work on a weekly basis. After hours on planes, speaking on stage, or doing media interviews, it's tough for me to wind down at the end of the day. However, I know how important it is that I get enough sleep when I'm staying in a hotel far away from home.
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), and this is linked to a host of diseases and other problems. Here are five tips I use to help power down and sleep better.
1. Avoid screen time blues
If you want to settle into a restful sleep, avoid staring at screens before bed (up to an hour). This may not be realistic in all situations, so if you absolutely have to work on a device, try a program like f.lux that can colour-shift your screen to minimize the amount of blue light emitted, the same approach used by Apple's Night Shift and Amazon's Blue Shade technology.
Reducing the amount of blue light can help you get to sleep more easily by making the colours warmer and less like the light of the sun (which, you know, is a pretty big cue that you should be awake!).
2. Brain dump & blank out
A lot of us have trouble sleeping because we can't stop thinking about what we have to do in the future (what I would give for a switch to just turn my brain off at the end of the day!). For taking the stress out of travel, try booking with an app. You can make reservations on-the-go and it's easy to manage your stays with all of your travel details saved in the app.
Another thing that can help is to write down all the things you have on your mind so that you can be confident they're listed and ready to be addressed in the morning (which means you don't have to think about them anymore that night). Just make sure you don't do this immediately before lying down to sleep, as you'll probably wind your brain up more than winding it down. If you need a good note-taking and task master app, try Any.do.
3. Work out your worries
Another thing you don't want to do immediately before going to sleep, but is hugely helpful if you can fit it in earlier in the day, is to grab a quick work out. Jog on a treadmill, do a few laps in the pool, or lift some weights. In fact, it's been shown that exercising (again, not too close to bedtime) can really help you get to sleep at night. If you've left it too late then maybe squeeze in some hotel room yoga before bed so that you can relax a bit without getting your heart rate racing.
4. Set the mood
While not everyone likes to sleep in total silence, eliminating distracting noises can help you get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. Depending on your environment, try noise-cancelling headphones or download a white noise app to drift off into dreamland. Also, you definitely want to shut off any alerts that might pop up in the middle of the night, so put your smartphone in Do Not Disturb mode when you hit the sack.
Finally, a high-quality pillow can make all the difference when it comes time to unwind. When travelling, I love that Holiday Inn Express hotels offer a pillow menu giving you the choice of firm or soft pillows, to ensure a restful and comfortable sleep.
5. Turn the clock around
This may be difficult for some of you, but my brother swears by it. When you go to bed, set your alarm and then keep that clock face out of view. How many times do you wake up in the middle of the night and check the clock? And then the next thing you probably do is either figure out how long you've been in bed or how much longer it is until you have to get up. Call me crazy, but I don't think doing math in the middle of the night is helping you rest. If you're really worried about missing your wake-up, then set the alarm on both your clock and your phone. In addition, I always call the front desk at my hotel to request a wake-up call.
As a busy mom, I know that I need to come back from a business trip refreshed and ready to enjoy my personal time with my family. Getting to sleep faster and better while travelling is a worthy goal for all of us in our sleep-challenged society. In other words, power down properly so you're ready to power up when you need it most.
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