“Ugh, how do you sleep in hotel rooms?” Another common question I get about my frequent business travel. Honestly, I can sleep almost anywhere. But I have certainly had some restless nights away from home. Over the past few years, I’ve become more diligent about planning for sleep success, because it is so important to me. I’ve talked about it before, but I consider sleep to be my number one performance priority–personal, professional, athletic, everything. Here are a few tips on how to get better sleep on the road.
Before Take Off:
- Plan ahead. If you leave town in a rush or with a huge to do list waiting for you, you will already feel anxious and unrested. Try to take care of as many things as possible before leaving town to prevent those worrisome restless nights.
- Be prepared. Pack your ear plugs, eye masks, a portable sound machine, essential oils, hot tea, melatonin, whatever tools you need to get you in the sleepy time mood.
- Exercise and eat normally. Before your trip, follow your normal exercise and eating habits to provide your body some sense of normalcy. (I’ve taken a lot of 6 AM flights, so this isn’t always possible, but I try to do this as much as possible.)
- Get some sleep. Don’t start off your trip in a sleep deficit. Get some good sleep the night before to ensure you’re well rested before take off.
- Dress for comfort. Planes aren’t really known for being comfortable, so if at all possible, wear something comfortable, loose-fitting, and layered. I like to wear a casual dress or yoga pants, with a cardigan or jean jacket.
In the Air:
- Get comfortable. If I have a longer flight, I definitely bring along a neck pillow. Most airlines also have blankets for their passengers.
- Drink water. Dehydration is a real thing, and it can seriously disrupt your sleep later and only adds to the feeling of being tired.
- Nap is you can. Again, I can sleep just about anywhere, so if you’re like me and are able to sleep on a plane, go for it. I close my window shade, put on a movie or listen to some music, and drift right off for as long as I can. Even a short nap can make a huge difference.
At the Hotel:
- Request a quiet room or a room in a quiet area. Little unknown tip–a lot of hotels have rooms or whole floors that are explicitly reserved for customers who want a good night’s sleep. These rooms may be located well off the street, have double-paned windows, soundproofed non-squeaky doors, quiet air-conditioners, are not scheduled near ballrooms or big parties. Just ask at check in!
- Request room amenities. Just because it’s not in the room doesn’t mean you can’t have it. Extra pillows or blankets, hot tea, ear plugs, even essential oils…all things that I have seen–for free–at some hotels. Again, just ask! Sometimes they even have other suggestions. Remember, travel is their business.
On the Road:
- Know your peak performance times. I am a morning person, no matter where I am, so I try to plan accordingly. Try to plan meetings on your home time, during your preferred hours, so that your body is able to adjust.
- Get some sun. During the day and meetings, let as much light into the room as possible and stay active. Staying inside all day can continue to confuse your body’s sleep schedule.
- Drink alcohol in moderation. I’m all about trying a local beer or having a glass of red with dinner, but I’ve had many restless nights after too many cocktails. Not to mention the morning after effects, the anxiety, the works. Better to just enjoy one to ensure a good night’s sleep.
- Relax before bedtime. Reading, stretching, a bath, hot tea…whatever relaxes you, implement it on the road.
- Exercise at the right time for you. Regular exercise can help you get a good night’s sleep. I am a morning exerciser, because it wakes me up for the day. Also, if I exercise too close to bedtime, I’m too energized to sleep. Take your schedule on the road, and don’t switch it up, because your sleep could suffer.
I’m always eager to hear what works for my fellow road warriors, so drop any suggestions in the comments. I hope these help you get a better night’s sleep during your next trip.