10 Tips for Great Sleep While You Travel

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Love to travel? Here’s some good news and some… not so good news.

Anything your body views as a stressor impacts your weight, your health and your sleep. While you may love to travel, your body may be viewing it as a source of stress. Are there ways to travel without burdening your body and your health? Of course! Here’s a list of conditions your body considers stressful. Work on solutions to some of these conditions now and you’ll be sleeping like a baby on your next trip!

1. External Stressors

▪ Mental and Emotional Stress: When we feel overburdened, overwhelmed or any other negative emotion we send signals to our body that we’re in a state of crisis. Cortisol (the stress hormone) is released which tells the body to prepare for battle, a condition that discourages restful sleep. 

▪ Physical stressors from either too much exercise, being overworked, a consistent lack of sleep or having too much to do without the necessary downtime to recover all create excess physical stress and can reduce the quality of your sleep, as well.

2. Internal Stressors 

▪ A muscular/skeletal issue, a food sensitivity or allergy, digestive issues, bacteria, yeast, a parasite and more can all stress our bodies internally, telling the body it’s in a state of alarm and discouraging sleep.

▪ Poor food choices –  any food that your body is sensitive to or perceives as a stressor can impact the quality of your sleep.

3. Certain Foods/Medication/Supplements: Stimulants, sugar and caffeine, as well as unhealthy fats, which promote inflammation and the release of stress hormones, all create stress on the body and prevent quality sleep. Also, any food that you’re sensitive or allergic to (gluten, dairy, nuts, etc.) creates an allergic response, which stimulates cortisol and disrupts sleep. Certain medications, over-supplementing or taking the wrong supplements can also put the body under extra stress.

4. Sleep Deprivation: According to clinical psychologist and sleep specialist Rubin Naiman, PhD, sleeping less than 6 hours per night or more than 9 hours may double your risk of angina, coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke. A recent study from the American Journal of Cardiology showed a small rise in heart attack rates the Sunday following Daylight Savings Time, when we lose an hour of sleep. Our bodies are so sensitive to sleep that when we miss even an hour our bodies need, it affects our immune system, creates inflammation and leads to illness and diseases like diabetes. Here’s how. A lack of sleep creates insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is when your body isn’t able to respond adequately to insulin. When that happens, blood sugar levels rise and over time, diabetes, as well as many other chronic illnesses can result.

5. Melatonin and Your Circadian Rhythm: At night, a hormone called norepinephrine is released. It tells the brain to make melatonin which helps us sleep. Any light (the lights in the room, the TV, alarm clock, your computer, etc.) can inhibit this response and prevent the production of melatonin. Excess stress and the release of cortisol prevents melatonin from being produced. When cortisol is high, melatonin is low and vise versa. Cortisol should be lowest at night. When it’s high, your body sees this as a state of alarm and melatonin levels drop. Over time, this impacts our circadian rhythm, which is the circulation of cortisol in the body over the course of a day. When we’re healthy, we feel energized in the morning and eventually get tired at night. A disruption in this rhythm leads to sleep disturbances. Stress and high cortisol levels disrupt our circadian rhythm, as well as jet lag, time zone changes and shift work.

6. Late Night Eating: When we eat late at night we raise our blood sugar levels and our body is more likely to experience a crash in blood sugar during the night. This crash signals the body that there’s a problem, which leads to a rise in cortisol and often wakes us up in the middle of the night.

7. External Noise or Stimulation: Any external noise you’re not used to may disrupt your sleep –  especially if you’re a light sleeper. Make sure your room is away from a bustling area, noisy highway or exit door. Of course, you can always bring earplugs or headphones. With headphones, you can listen to white noise, a guided meditation, soothing music or whatever will help encourage restorative sleep. Bright, stimulating colors can impact sleep too. Take a look at the room online before you book your hotel to be sure the colors feel calming to you.

8. Temperature: When the room is too hot or too cold, it’s difficult to sleep. While this varies from person to person, around 68 degrees is close to an optimal temperature for a great night’s sleep.

9. Clutter: A messy, disorganized space can prevent restful sleep. Unpacking, putting your things away, keeping your room neat and organized can create a greater sense of calm and peace leading to better sleep.

10. Sleep Aids: When we’re away, we change our routine and usually change our sleep routine too. Bringing familiar sleep aids with you like your favorite pillow or blanket, a book or anything else that brings about a sense of familiarity can encourage more restful sleep.

Wishing you great sleep along with great memories from your next trip!

Have any favorite sleep tips? I’d love to know, comment and share!

 

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