Alaska Sleep Education Center

Sleep While Traveling

Posted by Daniel T Anderson on Jan 21, 2021 1:39:00 AM

Businesswoman trying to sleep in hotel.

Most people suffer from insomnia while they are traveling. It happens because of the time zone, climate, and even people surrounding change. There are several practical solutions on how to get rid of these side effects and make your trip more pleasant.

Jet Lag

Jet lag happens when we're out of sync with our biological clock - when our internal clock does not match the external clock. When we consider the number of internal systems (hormones, chemical activity in the brain, temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, digestion) that are affected by sleep and our circadian rhythms, it's no wonder we suffer headaches, irritability, stomach upsets, sleepiness, impaired judgment, and memory lapses when we disrupt our sleep patterns by traveling across time zones. We will not be able to eliminate jet lag but we can try to minimize its effects.

Try whatever suggestions make sense to you.

  1. Again, knowledge of how much sleep you (and your children, if you're traveling with them) need, how much sleep debt you've accumulated, and when your personal periods of alerting and dips in alerting occur are the first step in dealing with the problem of jet lag.
  2. If you will be in the new location for a short time only, try not to disrupt your internal clock but arrange your stay and appointments to maximize your natural alert periods. For instance, if you have to fly from Winnipeg to Stockholm for a meeting, the time difference will be 7 hours. If the meeting is scheduled for 4 pm Swedish time, that is 9 am Winnipeg time. You will probably be traveling during your normal sleep time so try to sleep on the plane. If that is difficult, and you don't get much sleep, try to plan a nap before attending the meeting. Find out how long it will take you to get from your hotel to the meeting place, then spend the 20 minutes before you have to leave-taking a nap. Then, on your way back, you may want to read on the plane instead of sleeping so you won't disrupt your normal schedule.

The point is if you're flying when you're normally sleeping, then sleep on the plane. Use a sleep mask and a contour pillow to keep your head from flopping. If you're flying when you're normally awake, then don't sleep.

  1. If you will be staying for over a week, then it is worthwhile adjusting to the local time. As a general rule, our bodies need a day to adjust for every hour difference in time zone.
  2. Set your watch to the new time a couple of days before you leave and start adjusting to the new times before you leave. If you're traveling eastward, your bedtimes will be earlier than normal, so start going to bed earlier a couple of days before leaving. Darken your room or wear a sleep mask to help your body adjust to the earlier time. Turn on bright lights to wake yourself up earlier. If you're traveling west, your bedtime and rising times will be later. It is generally easier to adjust when you're traveling westward. You will need both strategies because your return journey is in the opposite direction.
  3. How much earlier or later you go to bed will depend on how far east or west you're going. If you'll be traveling across four or more time zones, go to bed an hour earlier or later. If less, then try just half an hour.
  4. On the flight, act as you would at the destination. Sleep if it's night and stay awake if it's daytime. Continue your schedule of sleeping earlier or later that you started a couple of days before leaving. If you're trying to sleep, tell the attendants not to wake you and wear your seatbelts over any blankets you might use so it's not necessary to disturb you to check. Use earplugs and masks if necessary and have comfortable pillows for everyone, even taking your own familiar ones.
  5. Eat lightly, mostly fruit and vegetables so your digestive system will not be overloaded at times that are 'wrong' for it. Drink lots of water.
  6. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as they interfere with sleep. If you must have coffee to keep you awake, be sure you don't drink any for at least 3 hours before bedtime.
  7. Remember that bright light and exercise can help to reset your internal clock so use this knowledge to your advantage. If you need to be alert, walk briskly, and expose yourself to bright light. Otherwise, wear sunglasses to dim the light and don't exert yourself more than necessary.
  8. Taking melatonin can also help. It's best to ask your doctor about this but some people have found it useful. In North America, melatonin is available as a supplement in health food stores while in Europe, and in many countries it's sold as a medicine. Buy from a large, reputable firm because the purity of the product varies considerably. 2-5 mg for 2 to 4 nights on arrival has been found to be helpful.
  9. Wear comfortable clothing. No need to upset your body further by being uncomfortable.
  10. Take short naps when you're sleepy.

You shouldn't let travel get in the way of your CPAP therapy. Today it is just as almost as easy to travel with a CPAP machine as it is to travel without it. Don't leave your machine at home and allow yourself to suffer at nights. Whether you're traveling for business or pleasure, you want to be at your best, and you're not going to get there if you're losing sleep. If you're need ing any additional information on traveling with a CPAP machine, or would like to purchase a travel specific CPAP machine, feel free to  contact the Alaska Sleep Clinic.

New Call-to-action

About the author: Daniel T Anderson, a writer at the college essay help service. He keeps up with advancing technologies so as to get acquainted with the latest technological tendencies. Besides, Daniel is keen on reading modern literature and traveling.

Topics: travel, travel cpap

Subscribe to our Blog

Alaska Sleep Clinic's Blog

Our weekly updated blog aims to provide you with answers and information to all of your sleeping questions.

New Call-to-action
Got Sleep Troubles

New Call-to-action

New Call-to-action


Popular Articles

Posts by Topic

see all