For many of us, travel can be one of life’s great joys, taking us to untold adventures and new horizons. But as anyone who’s ever encountered jet lag knows, travel can also take a toll on your mind and body.1 Lengthy stints at the airport, uncomfortable flights, and ventures into new time zones can disrupt your sleep cycle before, during, and long after your trip.
Thus, despite any excitement you may have about your journey, it’s not uncommon to spend a few hours staring at the ceiling because you can’t sleep before travel or after you arrive.
What do you do if you can’t sleep when traveling? How can you ensure you still catch enough winks as your travels unfold? By knowing how travel affects your ability to achieve deep, restful sleep, you can plan ahead and take steps to prevent these pitfalls. Keep reading for a comprehensive on how travel impacts your sleep pattern and what you can do to ensure better sleep quality.
Whether by plane, train, or automobile, even travel you’re excited about can be both physically and mentally taxing. Travel fatigue is the culmination of internal and external stress, two hazards that are nearly impossible to avoid while on the road.2
Possible stressors while traveling may include:
These factors and more can drain your energy and disrupt your normal sleep cycle––even before your trip. But you don’t just have to lie down and take it. Long flights, trains, and car rides present excellent opportunities for travelers to sleep off their travel fatigue. That said, many find it difficult to sleep in upright seats and loud, crowded environments.
When you’re traveling between time zones, it naturally takes time before your internal clock syncs with your new time zone. The irregular sleep patterns that occur during this adjustment period is referred to as jet lag.3 If you can’t sleep after a vacation or are having trouble sleeping on vacation in a new time zone, jet lag may be the culprit.
Symptoms of jet lag include:
Even when jet lag and travel fatigue aren’t keeping you up, a general change to your bedtime routine can disrupt your sleep cycle. For example, while on vacation, you may go to bed much later than you’re normally used to. Your body may not respond to that right away, instead waking up at your normal hour. The result is fatigue throughout the day.
The same effect can occur when you overload your day with activities. Overstimulation and insufficient time budgeted for sleep can negatively impact sleep schedules.
A chance to break away from your regular routine is often a welcome part of travel. That said, routine is a big part of your sleep cycle—especially when it comes to diet and exercise. When you indulge in food more and partake in exercise less, you may experience a decline in the quality of your sleep and overall energy levels.
Comfort is one of the most important aspects of quality sleep. At Casper, we prioritize comfort by providing a wide range of mattresses tailor-made for your body’s needs. Unfortunately, you may not always find that same comfort on the road.
No matter the quality of your hotel’s mattress, familiarity is a huge part of comfort. Familiarity goes far beyond just comfort, too––lighting, temperature, noise, and much more are all crucial factors in determining your comfort in a new environment. Especially on your first night, it can be difficult to sleep in an unfamiliar setting. This is called the “First Night Effect” and is understood to be an evolutionary survival trait.4
Traveling often brings excitement and adventure, but as we learned, it can also disrupt your sleep, leaving you feeling less than refreshed. Achieving a good night’s rest while on the go is crucial for maintaining energy levels and enjoying your trip to the fullest. Let’s explore some tips on how to sleep better when you’re traveling.
When most people think of sleep travel issues that crop up around the holidays, jet lag is usually the number one culprit. But with the right planning, there’s no reason jet lag should stop you from joining in on the family’s White Elephant festivities come sundown.
To beat jet lag and infuse your vacation with holiday cheer, keep the following quality sleep tips in your back pocket:5
With these quality sleep tips, you’ll be ready to master jet lag in no time, making this year’s European family reunion the best one yet.
You’ve spent your night belly-laughing with family and friends, snacking on delectable holiday treats, and sipping on the most scrumptious Christmas cocktails. As you cuddle into your flannel pajamas, you’re more than ready to drift off into a deep slumber, but the glowing Christmas lights and holiday music from the neighbor’s house turn your night into a dream scene akin to The Nutcracker.
To ensure your slumbers are comfortable, pack a sleep kit with all the bedtime essentials, including:6
Wondering how to get a quality sleep with a snorer on vacation? Add some earplugs to your kit to clear sleep-disrupting snores, music, and chatter from your sleep space. And every sleep kit needs a top-notch eye mask, too. Casper’s Snoozewear™ Sleep Mask is smooth and breathable, making every night an absolute dream.
Holiday pajamas don’t have to be reserved for your family gatherings. Comfort is an underrated part of better sleep—in fact, it’s so underrated that scientists have learned that the first night of sleep in a new place is usually so bad that the data is thrown out when conducting sleep studies.7
To make any holiday destination feel like home, make sure you’re traveling in comfort the whole way there and consider the following:
Cookies, sugarcanes, and marshmallow-filled cups of hot chocolate might be holiday season staples, but you’ll likely want to hold off on the sweets until you reach Grandma’s house. That’s because what you eat and drink directly affects your ability to sleep soundly throughout the night.
In fact, a study found that higher amounts of sugar correlated with poor sleep quality.9
That said, save the indulgences for the actual holiday and fill your travel day with practices to encourage much-needed shut-eye:10
You might have a perfect picture of your sunny island getaway in mind, but the idea of navigating large crowds, flying on a plane, and finding additional transportation is keeping you up at night.
Travel anxiety is incredibly common. Fortunately, mitigating or overcoming travel-induced stress is possible if you take the right steps to plan ahead.
To help squander sleep-squashing anxiety, you can:
With these sleep tips, you’ll be ready to focus on the upcoming holiday fun and put any travel anxiety behind you.
The holiday season is one of the best times of the year, but you don’t want to leave it more tired than when it started. By bringing your own sleep kit, planning for jet lag, and tackling anxiety, you can stay well-rested no matter where your travels take you.
At Casper, we have a bevy of cozy sleep products to accompany you on your holiday vacation.
Equip your plane ride with a sunlight-blocking sleep mask and blanket robe, and cozy up next to the fire with a throw blanket once you arrive. No matter your plans, Casper is here to infuse every holiday season with comfort and coziness.