Travel Time Is Sleepy Time

I can sleep anywhere. I’ve always felt a bit like the Dormouse from Alice In Wonderland. Not that I am used as a cushion between a perpetually late rabbit or a psycho with a penchant for haberdashery. Not that I suffer from feline-induced panic. Just that I can sleep anytime and anywhere. I’ve always been sleepy and my grandmother once told me that I have two speeds – high gear and off.

That ‘off’ setting serves me well when it comes to travel. I can close my eyes and fall asleep in all but the worst situations. It’s great when I have the hum of white noise in an airplane cabin, the clickety-clack of a train over fish plates, or the low-level growl of tires on blacktop. Out. Like. A. Light.

Not everyone is that way and after years of traveling with someone who can’t fall asleep no matter what. I have a few tricks to share. Here are my 6 tops tips to help you sleep during travel.

  1. Do your best to maintain a consistent routine. If you don’t drink coffee after a certain hour at home, don’t do it on your trip. If you don’t eat greasy food at home, avoid it on the road. Not a drinker? Don’t imbibe once you leave home. Any changes to your diet and routine will affect your sleep habits. Like everything physical, good and bad, little changes add up/
  2. Always try to travel long distances at a time when you can arrive during daylight hours. This helps to reset your internal clock. Once you get there, do your level best to stay awake until a reasonable bed time. You may be super tired, but if you can avoid falling asleep too early, you can quickly get your self on local time. Luckily, or not, many hotels have check-in after 2 or 3 pm leaving you no choice but to stay awake…or risk getting poked by a policeman’s truncheon as you’ve nodded off on a park bench.
  3. Plan for comfort. If you have any physical issues that make travel-related seating a (literal) pain, plan for it. Maybe you are 6’5″ and the stupid airplane headrest hits you at an odd spot, thrusting your head forward? Maybe you are 5’3″ and your feet don’t touch the plane floor. Plan for this with travel pillows and foot rests that work for you. Getting these ‘tools’ from reputable vendors means you can try them and return them if they don’t work, just keep your receipt. So far, the best pillow I’ve found for the airplane is the Trtl. It’s not perfect, but better than the rest (for me).
  4. Consider your bedding. A dear friend of mine, after several trips resulting in sickness, discovered that when she slept of the gorgeous down pillows of high-end hotel she always got sick. After an allergy diagnosis, she now requests synthetically-filled pillows and hasn’t been sick in several trips. If you are sensitive to certain fabrics or materials, plan accordingly by taking your own linens (sleep sacks or pillow cases) or call the hotel and ask if they can help you.
  5. Dress to regulate your temperature. In-transit, you will likely experience variations in temperature. Falling asleep on a warm airplane is great until you wake up shivering from the cold. Dressing in layers (a good idea everywhere) can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Natural fibers like cotton, wool, lyocell, etc. can help keep you cool when it’s hot and cozy when it’s cool.
  6. Medicate, when necessary. I don’t like using medicine (over-the-counter or Rx) but sometimes, it makes sense. Products with melatonin don’t require a doctor to get and can help you ease into sleep. When I am traveling via train or plane I use something a bit stronger (for me). If I know I have to get in a car driven by someone else (cabbie, bus driver, friend, whomever) when I land, I ALWAYS take a Dramamine/Avomine. Not only does this knock me out like a 2×4 to the back of the head it keeps me from getting car sick for at least another 6 hours after I wake up, and I don’t have any grogginess nor does it prevent me from falling asleep once I arrive at my destination. Maybe that last part is because of my inner Dormouse.

What do you think? Do you think any of these tips would work for you? Did I forget to list your go-to for sleeping on the road? Let me know in the comments! Sleep tight, fellow travelers!