The excitement of travel and disruptions in your usual routine combined with unfamiliar surroundings often make it challenging to sleep on the road. This is especially true if you’re not a frequent traveler. Our Day Trips TravelingMom shares her favorite “better sleep” tips for those times you’re sleeping away from home.
This post is sponsored by REMfresh and contains affiliate links.
How to Sleep Better Away From Home
You may be familiar with this scenario: On a family trip I lay awake in the hotel room, wide awake for hours. I knew we had a big day ahead of us, and I was anxious because I needed my rest. I just couldn’t for the life of me fall asleep! There was a restaurant/concert venue across the street from the hotel that was bumping loud rock music until the wee hours. The curtains didn’t quite cover the entire window, so a slat of light from the outside shone into the dark room. And of course my mental calendar of everything we’d be doing on the trip was on a never-ending loop in my head!
Frustrating, right? You know you need to sleep and yet, there you lie in a strange bed, wide awake. As the Day Trips TravelingMom, I rarely have an overnight stay, usually returning home to my own bed at night. When I do have the opportunity to travel far from home, there are times when I struggle to fall asleep, especially if I have crossed several time zones. I’m sharing a few better sleep tips, catered to those who are infrequent travelers and need to create a space that’s more like home.
1. How to Get a Quiet Hotel Room
This might be common sense, but it’s often something we forget when checking into a hotel. When you initially book your room, request one in a quiet spot. Ideally this should be away from the hotel pool and far from the banquet room and hotel bar. Avoid rooms near the ice and vending machines or near the elevators, since these locations draw high traffic. And of course, if you hear excess noise late at night, call the front desk to file a complaint.
Even with these adjustments, sometimes the noise can’t be avoided. Whether it’s paper-thin hotel room walls or your partner snoring in the bed next to you, sometimes you just need something to block out the noise! Consider a small, travel-sized white noise machine or even a phone app. Foam ear plugs are an inexpensive option as well. One other thing to double check before you fall asleep is that the hotel alarm clock isn’t still set from the former guest.
2. Make the Hotel Room Dark
At home, I prefer to sleep in a completely dark bedroom. When I travel, I pack my sleep mask to block out all the light when I sleep. However, my toddler can’t wear a sleep mask. And as soon as the morning sun peeks in, she’s going to be wide awake (whether we want to her up at 6 a.m. or not!).
I make the entire room as dark as possible so that the rest of the family sleeps deeply as well. Pack large desktop binder clips to secure the blackout curtains tight together. Cover the glowing alarm clock light with something (like an open book). If your kids need a light to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night, bring a nightlight with a motion sensor to plug near the bathroom. Then the light will only trigger when someone approaches the bathroom.
3. Use Melatonin to Help You Fall Asleep Fast and Stay Asleep
Our bodies naturally produce the hormone melatonin, which regulates sleep and wakefulness. However, as we get older, melatonin may decline, making it harder to fall asleep. Proper use of melatonin is known to be helpful for time zone changes and jet lag. I recently had the chance to try REMfresh Advanced Sleep Formulation. REMfresh delivers continuous melatonin release and absorption for 7 hours, helping users to fall asleep and stay asleep (or at least fall back asleep quickly if they awaken in the night).
While my husband is a melatonin fan, I’d never used it before. I was concerned that my body would react the way it had in the past with sleep aids (extremely heavy sleep and groggy upon waking). But I gave REMfresh a try, taking one 2 mg dose. And I was able to fall asleep quickly, slept well through the night and awoke without any side effects. I’m definitely packing REMfresh when I take my next trip!
4. What Temperature is Best for Sleeping?
One thing I love about hotel stays is access to an air conditioner. I prefer to sleep in a cool room, but we have to rely on a ceiling fan at home in San Diego, since we don’t have a/c.
I think 65 degrees is an ideal room temperature for the best night’s sleep. Adjust the room temperature until it’s comfortable for you, running the fan to circulate air.
5. Why You Should Watch What You Eat Before Bed
It’s common when you’re on vacation to indulge in heavier foods than usual. Appetizers, a few drinks, and a rich dessert can cause indigestion as well as disrupted sleep! Choose to eat a few foods that help you sleep, like a leafy green salad with kale and spinach. A snack of banana, walnuts and almonds, or a bowl of cereal with milk is good too.
Skip the caffeine close to bedtime. If you can find a bottle of tart cherry juice, drink that instead (it boosts natural melatonin levels to help you fall asleep). Avoiding alcohol is also recommended. What’s commonly referred to as the “nightcap” can actually interrupt your REM sleep. Instead, check the hotel room beverage bar for a tea bag of chamomile to sip.
6. The Best Essential Oils for Sleep
Each night at home, I mix together a blend of essential oils into my room diffuser about an hour before bedtime. The soothing scent that dissipates into the air truly calms the kids and helps prep them for sleep. I probably wouldn’t pack my essential oil diffuser. But I’m not beyond bringing a few important essential oil blends with me on the road.
I create a blend at home, using a carrier like almond oil. Add a few drops each of lavender, bergamot and cedarwood with the oil into a roller bottle and apply it topically to the bottoms of feet. I also add a drop of lavender to a handkerchief and put it inside my pillow to remind me to breath deeply and relax before bed.
7. Stick to Your Regular Bedtime Routine
Nothing throws off sleep like a change in routine. This is especially true for kids. If you always do bath, bedtime snack and story reading in that order at home, try to keep to the same routine when traveling.
Make your hotel room seem more like home. If you usually wear slippers before bed, make sure to pack them with you. Engage in a relaxing activity that you usually do at home at bedtime. Maybe that’s a warm bath or shower, a cup of tea, or reading a book in bed.
Following these 7 better sleep tips for how to sleep better when traveling should help you rest on the road!