Sleep Tips for Frequent Travelers

People traveling by plane and experiencing jet lag.

To say that sleep is important is the understatement of the year. Sleep deprivation has been linked to a host of ailments including cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes. On the flip side, getting adequate sleep can help people in chronic pain feel better and lead to a better sex life.

For frequent travelers dealing with jet lag or trying to sleep in an unfamiliar bed, getting enough Zzzs is a dicey proposition at best. Try these tips to alleviate jet lag and improve your quality of sleep:

Ward off jet lag

Preventing jet lag requires a one-two punch that starts before you get on the plane. Take extra good care of yourself before your trip; the better you feel, the less jet lag will get you. ABC News suggests if you are heading east, go to bed one hour earlier each night for a few days prior to departure; if heading west, hit the sack an hour later for a few nights. This will help to ready your body for the time change.

Because being dehydrated can make jet lag worse, drink plenty of H2O on the plane and avoid in-flight alcoholic beverages and airline coffee. If you are on an overnight flight, try to sleep on the plane so you arrive at your destination reasonably alert. Pack a travel pillow and noise-cancelling headphones and drift off into dreamland.

Establish consistent sleeping times

Create a consistent bedtime routine once you reach your destination. Just like little kids do better with a predictable sleep/wake schedule, so will you. Turn off the TV and your electronic devices an hour or two before bedtime and take a warm shower to help relax your body and mind. If you are having trouble winding down, read a magazine or book instead of answering emails or playing Candy Crush. Although it may be hard to stay awake that first day when traveling across multiple time zones, resist the urge to nap in the afternoon; this will help you to acclimate quicker and sleep through the night.

Also, ask if your hotel has flexible check-in and checkout times; as The Dish Network blog notes, a 24-hour check-in/checkout policy is a terrific new trend in the travel industry that can help reduce the stress associated with travel. Having a later checkout in the morning will allow you to sleep in a bit and be extra well-rested for your trip back, and it will be one less deadline for you to worry about. The less stressed you feel during your trip, the better you will sleep.

Give melatonin a try

Some people have had luck using melatonin to prevent excessive jet lag, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Melatonin is a natural hormone that your body naturally makes during the night. When you are suffering from jet lag, supplementing with melatonin can help ensure that you have enough of the sleep-inducing hormone to get adequate slumber. Some studies have found that taking melatonin improves the quality of sleep, especially during travel; if you wish to give it a try, ask your physician if it’s Ok and then purchase a bottle to take with you.