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Smart Sleep Strategies For Travellers

08/19/2014 12:43 EDT | Updated 10/19/2014 05:59 EDT
Plush Studios/Bill Reitzel via Getty Images

Summer and travel -- our two favorite words. Trouble is, travel's uninvited companion, sleep deprivation, usually hitches a ride and brings everyone down. But a few simple tips could send your sleep challenges packing, leaving you to energized and ready for adventure.

Reserve rest & relaxation

If a quiet night is a priority for you when you travel, speak up when booking your room. You're the expert on what helps you relax and get the sleep you need. If you're going to Vegas, skip to the next section -- you won't be sleeping anyway...

  • Ask for a quiet room - Request a room away from the elevator, stairs and ice machine.
  • Don't follow the sun - If you're crossing time zones, request a room on the west side of the hotel to avoid a sunrise wake-up call.
  • Update your profile online - Some chains allow priority customers to enter personal information that will help the hotel serve you better when you arrive.

First class luxury

When it comes to sleep and travel, space is a luxury -- and a necessity. While the price of first class may be hard to swallow, there's a lot to be said for finding a place to stretch out.

  • Secure your stuff - Feeling safe is priority number one for sleep. If there's a place to lock your belongings, use it. If not, make sure your money, credit cards and passport are tucked inside your shirt where it would be hard for someone to remove without waking you.
  • Stretch it out - If you're flight's delayed, chances are you aren't relaxed. Yoga or some simple stretches that elongate your muscles will help release the tension. If it helps, put on your headphones and let your favorite tunes relax you.
  • Change your clothes - Slip into loose clothing that will allow you to move freely (and make it easier to nap).
  • Make a pillow - Your head needs a soft place to rest so roll up a jacket or scarf. It's as simple as that.

Last longer in bed

Travel quickly across time zones and jet lag becomes an unwelcome and unavoidable travel partner. And if you're going west to east, expect jet lag to be worse. But there are non-medicinal ways to hack a good night's sleep.

Start by pushing back your bedtime about six days before you leave -- just 15 minutes will do it. Then three days out, push it back half an hour.

When you board the plane, adjust your watch, laptop and cellphone and start living the new time zone right away.

While in the air

  • Try not to nap - A nap can thwart your body's need for a longer sleep that night. If you must sleep, limit yourself to 25 minutes,
  • Stay hydrated with water - Not coffee, alcoholic beverages or soda drinks. Arriving dehydrated will make you feel lousy and it will also makes it hard for your body to adjust to the new rhythm.
  • If you must nap when you arrive - Limit your nap to 90 minutes, long enough to recharge the batteries but not so long you won't be able to sleep later.

When you arrive, a few tricks in your hotel room can help you find sleep satisfaction.

  • Pack a sleep kit - Eye shades, meditation CD, aromatherapy sprays (lavender or chamomile) and a night light so you don't wake yourself up fully if you need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.
  • Try a bedtime shower or bath - Studies show that raising the body temperature (with hot water) and lowering it quickly (with room temperature air) an hour before bed relaxes your muscles and prepares your body for sleep.
  • Clip the drapes shut - Furnace and air vents are often directly below the curtains. Clipping them prevents them from separating during the night and letting the early morning sun in.
  • Check the thermostat - Sleep can be disrupted if the room is warmer than 65° F or colder than 54° F.
  • Check the clock - The alarm may still be set from the last guest.

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