Whether you're traveling for work, vacation, or even when staying with good friends or family, sleeping in an unfamiliar bed—away from the comforting surroundings of our own bedroom—can be challenging. But with a little extra planning and a few adjustments, sweet dreams can be yours...
What to Pack
You know the drill, you've just fallen asleep only to be dramatically awoken 20 minutes later by the ice machine clanking, or inebriated partygoers yelling down the hall, or the show choir group in the next room that just can't stop belting out every frigging song from Fiddler on the Roof (I'm still have flashbacks six years later), or the 6 am construction crew, or the sirens, or the dog barking outside, or the baby crying...Long story short: good quality ear plugs can be a real life saver.
Think of this like your own portable set of blackout shades—very handy for blocking out ambient or street light.
There are some great options for travel pillows on the market right now, and a comfortable pillow can be a real gift if you find yourself with no pillow (e.g., flight delays or unforseen travel issues) or if the pillow provided is uncomfortable, which can result in poor sleep and neck discomfort.
It may seem silly to tote your own pillowcase from home, but resting your head upon familiar fabric that smells of your own laundry soap can be very soothing when trying to sleep in an unfamiliar setting. Also, not all hotels provide luxurious "hotel quality" sheets—and it can take a whole lot longer to get to dreamland when your cheek is pressed against rough cotton that smells of bleach.
A Good Book or Magazine
Turn off your phone and resist bringing work to bed. Instead, settle in with a good book you can get lost in or a magazine to flip through before dozing off.
Dab a few drops of lavender, cedarwood, vetiver, ylang glang, Roman chamomile, or bergamot (or a blend as shown above) on the insides of your wrists and around your forehead to help calm your senses.
A Teddy Bear or Blankie
This tip comes from my son, who, when I told him I was writing about things people can bring to help them sleep away from home, said, "Oh, like a teddy bear?" And I thought, yes, of course, for some of us (kids and kids at heart), a lovey or a blankie can be very helpful when sleeping away from home.
Bedtime Routine Ideas
- Sip a cup of warm herbal tea or a small nightcap.
- Check thermostat and adjust (if possible) to between 60-65 degrees, which is the optimal temperature for sleeping according to The Better Sleep Council.
- Take a warm bath or shower to help your body and mind unwind and relax.
- Turn off your phone. This one can be hard because it can feel nice (and sometimes necessary) to stay connected when you're on the road, but your senses are already a little overstimulated from travel and new surroundings, so it's important to quiet electronic distractions before bed.
- Try listening to a meditation or relaxation app, such as the following:
A seasoned traveller passed this along to me and I like it: Don't hesitate to contact your hotel beforehand to request a room in a quiet wing away from the street, pool, bar, etc. They're typically more than happy to accommodate.