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Can’t Sleep When Traveling? Follow These Tips.

June 5, 2024  ·  7 min read

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Can’t sleep when traveling? You’re not alone. Plane seats are uncomfortable, car rides are too long, and hotel beds don’t hold a candle to your own bed. As much as we love to travel, see new sights, and enjoy new experiences, our sleep is often put on the back burner during these times. Whether you’re crossing time zones, dealing with unfamiliar environments, or simply adjusting to a new routine, getting quality sleep away from home can be tough. 

If you’re planning a trip or have to travel for work and find that you can’t sleep when traveling, here are some practical tips to help you beat travel insomnia and how to get the best sleep possible while on your trip.

Texas Mattress Makers travel sleep tips infographic

1. Proactively adjust your sleep schedule 

Travel insomnia occurs when you can’t sleep on vacation and can be caused by a variety of factors. One common cause is jet lag, which happens when your body’s internal clock has trouble adapting to a new time zone, messing up your sleep cycle. The best way to combat this is to proactively adjust your sleep schedule. 

If you know that you are traveling to a different country or a location that is hours ahead or behind, start adjusting your sleep schedule a few days before you leave for vacation. Each day before your trip, adjust your bedtime by 15-30 minutes to match the time zone of your destination. This helps your circadian rhythm, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up at the right times once you arrive.

2. Minimize stress while traveling

Traveling can be a stressful experience. Running through airports, struggling with tickets, juggling children, delayed flights…the list goes on and on. You might be wondering, how does stress affect sleep? When you’re stressed, the cortisol levels in your body spike, which keeps your brain alert and awake. As a result, you may have trouble getting a good night’s sleep — and when you can’t sleep, you will continue to be stressed, repeating the cycle.

Avoiding stressful situations will help keep your cortisol levels low and can help you sleep better at night. Planning ahead and staying organized is the best way to keep stress to a minimum while traveling.

Before your trip or vacation, make sure your travel documents are ready, pack your bags early, and give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport. To stay calm, download relaxation apps or listen to soothing music during your travel. Less stress equals better sleep, and better sleep equals a more enjoyable travel experience.

3. Stick to a bedtime routine

Your normal bedtime routine can be disrupted while traveling. Depending on the specificities of your trip itinerary, you may wake up earlier or stay awake longer than your body is used to. This can throw off your sleep cycle and make it difficult to get quality sleep while you’re away, resulting in daytime fatigue and mood shifts.

How much sleep do I really need? To reap the benefits of a good night’s sleep, every adult needs 7-9 full hours of sleep each night. This gives your body and brain enough time to begin and finish the processes that keep you functioning properly. Although sacrificing a few hours of sleep for an excursion or an experience can be tempting, it might make the rest of your trip difficult.

Wondering how to get the best sleep possible while on vacation? Keeping a consistent sleep schedule will improve your circadian rhythm, allowing you to fall asleep faster and easier. This means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day on your trip to give your body time to adjust. Your sleep schedule can be adjusted once the travel insomnia or jet lag passes.

4. Pack sleep accessories

One reason many people can’t sleep when traveling is the overwhelming stimuli that keep our senses awake and alert. Lights and sounds make it difficult to quiet down the brain and find peaceful sleep. If you’re curious about what to do if you can’t fall asleep while traveling, packing sleep accessories can make sleeping much easier. For example, eye masks and headphones can block out light and sound to create a more restful environment. 

Let’s face it: hotel pillows and beds are not always the most comfortable. Bringing along familiar items, like your favorite pillow or a travel-sized version of your bedding, can provide comfort and make it easier to relax in an unfamiliar setting. Having a high-quality pillow can minimize the risk of neck and shoulder pain. Additionally, if you struggle to fall asleep, packing a noise machine can help calm your body and mind down and set yourself up for restful sleep.

Before you decide to pack sleeping aids to combat your travel insomnia, please read up on our blog discussing the pros and cons of melatonin and how it can affect your body and sleep cycle. While it can seem like a good short-term solution, the long-term effects can make it difficult for your body to produce melatonin naturally. 

5. Schedule time for sleep 

When planning a vacation, it’s normal to want to jam-pack your itinerary with as many exciting excursions and activities as possible. Unfortunately, a crammed schedule can lead to burnout and sleep deprivation, especially if travel insomnia is involved. 

For the first few days, go to bed at a reasonable time and make sure your itinerary includes adequate time for rest. Avoid overbooking yourself with activities, especially ones that are strenuous and physically demanding. If you do have anything planned in the first few days, try to keep the activities leisurely and light. 

Scheduling downtime for relaxation and sleep prevents burnout and ensures you have enough energy to fully enjoy your travels.

I sleep better when I travel: What does that mean?

There are some cases in which people are able to sleep like a rock when they travel. They may even think, “Why are hotel mattresses so comfortable?” While on your trip, if you find yourself sleeping longer, waking up with fewer aches, and feeling more comfortable on hotel mattresses, you might actually have a problem. 

Why? The truth is that hotel mattresses are usually not great, and if they deliver restful sleep in comparison to your mattress at home, it means that your mattress at home may be wrong for you. If your mattress at home is not providing you with the support and comfort that your body needs, it’s time for an upgrade. 

Woman on bed with tablet

Get the Sleep You Deserve

Get Better Sleep Anywhere with Texas Mattress Makers

Can’t sleep while traveling? Is travel insomnia ruining your trip? In a perfect world, you’d be able to take your Texas Mattress Makers mattress with you everywhere you went! Unfortunately, not all dreams can come true, but by following these tips, you can significantly improve your chances of getting quality sleep while traveling.

Plus, when you’re at home, you can get amazing sleep every night with a mattress from our factory. Our mattresses are made with the highest-quality components that can suit a wide variety of sleep needs. 

If you’re not getting adequate sleep at home, visit any of our mattress stores in Katy, Downtown Houston, The Woodlands, Rosenberg, Humble, or Baybrook, TX, to get fitted with your dream mattress. Every night can feel like a vacation with Texas Mattress Makers.

More Helpful Articles by Texas Mattress Makers:

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