Better Sleep Tips for Business Trips
Road warriors need sound sleep to be at their peak.
Lifestyle on the Road
With room service and late-night events and dinners, making good choices to
promote sound sleep may be difficult. Travelers often eat and drink more and
sleep less than they do at home. Alcohol is often erroneously used as a sleep
enhancer and caffeine (coffee, soda) is used to boost performance. All of these
have negative impacts on sleep. On the positive side, more and more travelers
realize the value of exercise and do try to use it to enhance performance. Here
are some additional tips:
- Utilize your prime time. If you're on a two- to three-day trip that
crosses multiple time zones, try to plan meetings on your home time, during the
mid-day hours, because your body will not have enough time to adjust.
- Let the sunshine in. During the day and meetings, let as much light
into the room as possible and stay active, whether talking or just taking
- If you snooze you don't lose. If you are really wiped out, try to
take a short 10-20 minute nap.
- Cut caffeine. Simply put, caffeine can keep you awake. It can stay
in your body longer than you may think -- up to 14 hours. Cutting out caffeine
at least four to six hours before bedtime can help you fall asleep easier.
- Drink alcohol in moderation. Alcohol may initially help you fall
asleep, but as your body clears it from your system, it can also cause symptoms
that disturb sleep, like nightmares, sweats, and headache. Drink one glass of
water for every alcoholic beverage consumed to try to reduce these
- Relax before bedtime. Stress not only makes you miserable, it wreaks
havoc on your sleep. Develop some kind of pre-sleep ritual like reading, light
stretching, or taking a hot bath to break the connection between all the day's
stress and bedtime. These rituals can be as short as 10 minutes.
- Exercise at the right time for you. Regular exercise can help you
get a good night's sleep. The timing and intensity of exercise seems to play a
key role in its effects on sleep. If you are the type of person who gets
energized or becomes more alert after exercise, it may be best not to exercise
in the evening.
- Eat right, sleep tight. Try not to go to bed hungry, but avoid heavy
meals before bedtime. An over-full belly can keep you up. Also, try not to
drink anything after 8 p.m. This can keep you from getting up to use the
bathroom during the night.
- Restrict nicotine. Having a smoke before bed -- although it feels
relaxing -- actually puts a stimulant into your bloodstream. The effects of
nicotine are similar to those of caffeine. Nicotine can keep you up and awaken
you at night; it can stay in your body as long as 14 hours. It should be
avoided particularly near bedtime and if you wake up in the middle of the
The bottom line is sleep is more important than you may think. So be aware
of the critical role sleep plays in your performance, productivity, and health.
You'll be healthier and happier.
Editor's note: SoundSleep consulted with Crowne Plaza Hotels &
Resorts to help develop its Sleep Advantage Program.
SOURCES: Hilton Personal Performance Survey, January 2004,
conducted by Alertness Solutions. Successful Meetings, Jan. 1, 2004.
"We Are Chronically Sleep Deprived," Sleep, vol. 18 no. 10.
"Excessive Daytime Sleepiness and Risk of Occupational Injuries in
Non-Shift Daytime Workers," Sleep. vol. no. 3. "Dose-response
Relationship Between Sleep Duration and Human Psychomotor Vigilance and
Subjective Awareness," Sleep, vol. 22, no. 2. Sleep Medicine,
Kryger, Meir, et al., Third Edition, 2000. Heart Disease, vol. 4 no. 5.
"Peak Performance and Traveling Don't Mix," The New York Times,
Nov. 4, 2003.