Sleep and Travel: Like Oil and Water?

Sleep and Travel: Like Oil and Water?

Recently on our Facebook wall (you’re a fan, right?), I posed the following pithy question:

What do you prioritize whenever you travel?

Our good friends at ExOfficio responded with a very good answer that left me pondering. Still.

Taking a little extra time to sleep so a fully-rested me can completely appreciate my travels.

No Sleep Syndrome: The Perfect Storm?

Travel seems to be designed to engineered as the perfect storm for a lack of sleep.

  • Before You Go:  You’re busy trying to take care of things so they’ll remain self sufficient while you’re gone.  You’re packing, buying extra gadgets and gear, researching your trip, etc.  And of course, that damned night-before-you-go-cant-sleep thing. (What is up with that?)
  • On the Go:  Early starts to see the sunrises and catching all day tours.  Not eating properly, exposed to new germs and bacteria.  Uncomfortable beds.  Minutes of shut eye stolen on planes and trains that may help, but probably hinder.

It’s no wonder we’re not all bleary-eyed zombies on every trip.

The Consequences of a Lack of Sleep

When you don’t get enough sleep, the consequences are obvious.

  • You’re more likely to get sick. And ill on the road is the only thing worse than being ill in general.
  • You’re unable to be “in the moment.” I hate to get all woo-woo, but you know what I mean – if you’re dead tired, then no matter how magnificent the worlds most famous _________________ is, you just want to go to bed.
  • You’re more likely to get into arguments with your traveling companions.  As if that wasn’t likely in the first place. 🙂
  • You’re more likely to never travel again if this is how bad it’s gonna be. Uh huh.  I hear you.

Feeling tired can feel normal after a short time. Researchers who deliberately deprived test cases of sleep for research initially noticed greatly the effects on their alertness, mood and physical performance, but the awareness dropped off after the first few days. After five nights of partial sleep deprivation, three drinks will have the same effect on your body as six would when you’ve slept enough.

Tips for Getting More Sleep on your Next Trip

I’m as guilty as the next vacationer for not getting proper sleep on my travels.  But I do try, and here are some personal suggestions as to how I try to stay a little more refreshed when faced with long days:

  • Pump up on Vitamins:  I always take a regimen of vitamins when I travel, always.  I suggest that whatever you choose includes a daily dose of 1000MG of Vitamin C, as well as as many B vitamins as you can get in there, as these give you a bit of an energy jump.  I’m not a doctor, so you assume all responsibility for taking this advice. 🙂
  • Bring your Creature Comforts:  I don’t travel with much travel gear, but I’m not opposed to anything that relates to getting a good night’s sleep.  That includes travel pillows, teddy bears, aromatherapy, bath salts, eye shades, ear plugs… whatever you might need, bring it!
  • Book a Sleep In Day:  Honestly, what is more fun than sleeping in under those comfy hotel sheets, having some room service, listening to music, reading, just having some quiet time.  You don’t have to stay in bed all day (unless you want to!), but a quiet and relaxed morning without all the sightseeing might be the most memorable part of your trip.  I know it is hard to resist the siren call of sightseeing, but trust me, and try it.  (You could also have a night-in at the hotel… or both!)
  • Last, but most important: Know Your Body.  If napping on trains and planes helps you, do it.  If it doesn’t, hit the barista bar.  If you really must have 8 hours to function, then skip that sunrise photo as it will ruin the rest of the day – or skip the night out on the town the night before.  Only you know your body, so trust your instincts.
What are your tips for getting some sleep while on the road? Share in the comments.

Photo by DirtyS, suzette

Sleep and Travel: Like Oil and Water?

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is the founder and creator of Plum Deluxe. He authors our award-winning weekly email newsletter, The Blend and curates our popular organic tea of the month club.

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