Sleep Tips for Road Warriors

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Michael Breus, PhD
If you're traveling west, Uh, what time of day is your flight actually can be a pretty big factor for you.

: plane taking off

Michael Breus, PhD
So if you're normally a pretty sleep deprived person, you may use a 3 or 4 hour plane flight to get a little bit of extra rest. Be careful because when you arrive, if it's near nighttime, you may not be able to fall back asleep, okay. So, if you're going to use the plane to allow yourself to get more sleep, I would say I want you traveling in the morning because that leaves you a lot of time to get tired during the day so you can fall asleep at night. If you're traveling in the opposite direction, then the opposite would be true. Then you would want to travel more towards the evening, because then it's closer to time for bed. Often times, what I have people do is create a travel sleep kit. What's in my travel sleep kit is usually eye shades, ear plugs, some sort of clip for the drapes. When you go to hotel rooms, usually the air conditioner is right underneath the drapes and it parts the drapes and the sun kind of hits you in the morning, so have something for the drapes. When you check into your hotel, ask if you can be placed on a top floor, because that's usually far away from street noise. You want your room to be facing west and not east because the sun rises in the east, so you don't want to get the sun early in the morning. And ask if there's a way you can be placed not next to families with small children, a hockey team, whatever, because the noise factor can be a big one. I've actually had some patients tell me that they sleep better on the road than they do at home, because at home they don't get interruptions. It's not nearly as stressful because they are not dealing with big emotional issues usually on the road, so I've had many people tell me that they, they do pretty well. They get used to sleeping on the road. For those folks, what I often tell them is try to stay in the same hotel, try to stay in the same rooms, so you can increase your familiarity. Have your travel sleep kit. The other thing that is good is to add a night light to your travel sleep kit. The reason is when you wake up in the middle of the night, if you need to go to the bathroom because you've been entertaining, drinking alcohol or coffee you don't want to flip on the light because then that tells your brain that it's daytime. Some people have a difficult time sleeping in a hotel because it's unfamiliar and they are fearful from a safety perspective. And so, there are door alarms that you can hang over your door so that if anybody jiggles the handle, an alarm will sound. That will usually have them move away and allow you to call security or whatever you may need. White noise is a great thing for people to sleep with and there are even some small sound generators that you can bring with you. And unfamiliar sounds can kind of keep you pretty awake, everything from air conditioners turning on to a noisy neighbor in a hotel or things like that.