Why is after a long day of sightseeing you can feel completely exhausted yet you simply can’t get to sleep?
If this happens to you, don’t worry you’re not alone. The inability to get quality sleep while traveling is a common complaint amongst even seasoned road warriors.
There could be many reasons for this. Maybe it’s due to the over stimulation, too much alcohol, a change in time zones or simply the fact that hostel dorms rooms are the least relaxing place on the face of the planet.
Or it could be due to involuntary survival instincts buried deep down inside all of us. Yep, according to researchers, the reason we might not be able to sleep as well when traveling is because a section of the brain refuses to shut down fully when we are in unfamiliar locations. This ‘night watchman’ area of the brain prefer instead to stay in survival mode, alert for dangers.
So if your brain is conspiring to keep you awake what can you do? Well, don’t despair and don’t go reaching for the industrial strength sleeping pills just yet. The key is to trick your brain into thinking you are somewhere safe and familiar. Sounds complicated. It isn’t. Don’t worry I have a few little hacks to help you do just this...
Make things smell familiar
The trick is to make your unfamiliar bed smell like home. Now, I don’t mean bring along a pile of unwashed clothes and spread them around. Well you could, but that would be a lot of work!
No, instead get into the habit at home of sprinkling a few drops of Lavender Essential Oil onto your pillow at night. Then when you are traveling you can easy replicate this exact procedure. Your olfactory senses will kick into gear, smell the familiar scent and tell your brain there is nothing to worry about here.
Why lavender? Well, that’s easy. Lavender has been used in natural remedies for thousands of years for its calming properties. It has a well known ability to calm a racing mind, relieve anxiety and instill an amazing sense of tranquility. Plus it smells lovely.
Oh and should you stay out in the sun a bit too long, lavender oil provides amazing sunburn relief too. Bonus!
Keep a familiar routine
Human beings are creatures of habit. The body and mind absolutely adores routine. The single best thing anyone can do for for their sleep, whether they are home or away traveling, is to keep to a regular bedtime.
Yup, that’s right bedtimes are not just for kids. Countless studies have shown individuals who go to bed and rise at roughly the same time day in and day out fall asleep faster and stay asleep better. Don’t have a bedtime, this handy guide will help you find one will help you find one.
If you’re away from home sleeping in an unfamiliar location you can help your body acclimatize a helluva lot by trying at least to keep to regular routines. That means packing your bedtimes and bringing them with you.
Obviously time zone changes are going to get away a little. As are differences in hours of daylight. After a few day however, once you've found your feet, try and settle upon a bedtime and stick to it.
If you have a familiar pre-bed routine try where possible to bring that with you too. Maybe at home you always finish the day by having a shower and writing in your journal. Replicate this on the road. Your sleep will thank you for it.
Bring some home comforts
There’s a kind of machismo related to travel, that somehow you have to leave everything you love behind and travel as light as possible. However if you know you sleep badly, then bringing along a few home comforts that might help you get some rest is definitely worth the extra few pounds.
The quality of your sleep affects absolutely every single thing you do and is far more important to the enjoyment of your trip than a slightly heavier backpack. Don’t believe me? Well pay the Sleep Advisor a quick visit in that case. The wealth of information they have regarding all thing slumber will soon change your mind.
It would be unreasonable of me to suggest you bring your entire bed along for the ride but pillowcases are small enough to easily fold away into any backpack. The familiar texture of material you know against your cheek will do more good than you realized possible. As will the familiar smell.
Well, there you have it – three little tricks to help you trick your pesky brain of yours into thinking you are in a safe and familiar location. Give them a go and hopefully you will be asleep before you know it!
Written by Sarah Cummings
This post is brought to you by Sleep Advisor