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Helpful Tips for Sleepy Travelers

Do you love seeing new places but dread the idea of traveling?  If you are someone who simply can’t get enough rest during a trip, then you likely find it hard to have fun when you are always stressed out and exhausted.  There are some helpful tips that can make your trip much more fun, however, as adopting new habits while you travel can ensure that you are as relaxed as possible.

How Jet Lag Affects Your Body

Everyone knows that dealing with jet lag is difficult, but many individuals don’t realize that it’s actually tough on the body from a biological standpoint. When you cross time zones on a plane, things are going too fast for your body to adjust. Instead of having enough time to get used to the change, a 4 or 5-hour flight can throw your body clock off for days.  Travelers who are going from the east coast to the west coast are most at risk of suffering from jet lag, which can range from daytime drowsiness that lasts for a week or more, to more debilitating cases of extreme insomnia and severe lack of concentration.

Body Clock When traveling, your body clock is thrown for a loop, and it struggles to keep up.

The symptoms of jet lag become worse once a traveler crosses three time zones, and the recovery time is usually about one day per time zone.  Travelers report that there is actually much more recovery time needed for those who are traveling from east to west, and many people will go to bed earlier when visiting the west coast to avoid jet lag problems.

How to Reduce the Signs of Jet Lag and Stop it From Happening

Before You Go

One way to prevent jetlag is to start making changes to your daily routine in order to change your body’s natural time zone.  You can start eating earlier in the evening and going to bed earlier if you are traveling to the east coast, or trying staying up later if traveling west.  Experts also recommend that those who have trouble with flying or with jet lag in general schedule flights that are later in the day versus first thing in the morning.  Sometimes just worrying about missing an early flight can keep travelers up all night, making it impossible to rest up for a long flight.

Before leaving for your flight, pack your own “goodie bag” of items that will help you stay comfortable on your trip.  It’s a good idea to include things like good quality ear buds or plugs, a relaxing eye mask, slippers or heavy socks and gum for popping those clogged ears.  Many travelers recommend choosing comfortable, relaxed clothing as well, utilizing layers when possible for added warmth.  You may also want to bring along your own pillow.

 During Your Flight

Once you’ve boarded your flight, you should always set your watch to your destination’s time so that you can immediately start getting your body adjusted to the time at your new location.  This means that even if it is still daylight on the plane, if it’s nighttime at your destination, then you’ll want to get some sleep on the plane.

Staying hydrated is also key to preventing serious jet lag.  Many travelers opt for liquor to relax when they are flying, but this is an easy way to quickly become dehydrated.  Drinking lots of fruit juices and water can help you avoid dehydration, so stick to the healthy options when you are flying and try to avoid alcohol.  Avoiding caffeine and nicotine are also a good idea, as adding any sort of stimulants to your system can definitely harm your sleep patterns during your trip.

Some additional steps that you can take during your flight are to use a blanket to stay comfortable and to bring your own snacks in order to keep your digestive system regulated.  Many travelers also swear by in-flight stretches and movements that are done to stimulate blood flow and reduce fatigue.  Simple movements such as deep breathing exercises, basic knee lifts, neck and arm stretches and seat lifts can make a long flight much easier on your body and can help reduce the pain your may feel during an uncomfortable flight.

 Caring for Yourself Once You’ve Arrived

Sleep Quarters Don't scrimp on your accommodations. Your body is already struggling, so make sure that you find the most comfortable accommodations that are affordable to help induce sleep & comfort.

Once you have arrived at your destination and are ready to start your adventure, the first thing your can do to help yourself out is to check into a nicer hotel that offers features like an out of the way room and comfortable beds that are designed to help you sleep better.  Several of the major hotel chains are now promoting themselves as “sleep-friendly”, so be sure to look around before choosing where to stay.

When checking in to your hotel, ask for a quieter room that is away from any stairwells or elevators and look for a room that faces east or south for that extra shot of morning sun to wake you up in the morning.  This is an easy way to ensure a great night's sleep and a refreshing wake up the next day.

In your room, always let the staff know you mean business when it comes to getting enough sleep by dead-bolting the door and hanging up that handy “Do Not Disturb” sign.  It’s also a good idea to request a wake up call and to set an alarm clock as well so that you don’t oversleep.

Why You Should Never Drive Sleepy

When traveling by car, it’s also important to ensure you stay on a healthy sleep schedule in order to remain as alert and aware of your surroundings as possible.  Many people don’t realize that driving “sleepy” can be just as dangerous as driving drunk.  Drivers can doze off for just a second, which can lead to disastrous results.  You should always make sure that you are well rested before taking off on a long road trip, especially one that crosses different time zones.  If you are on the road and notice things like excessive yawning, a loss of focus or wandering thoughts that you can’t stop, then it’s time to pull over and take a break.  Sleep at a rest area or get a local hotel room to rest in.  It’s an important thing to do no matter where you are traveling to or how much experience you have driving.

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