Having a good night’s sleep – it’s one of the most healthy things you can do for yourself, but sometimes sleep evades us. Even if we don our most comfortable PJs and slip into a set of soft jersey knit sheets on a perfect mattress, a restless night can happen. When I travel, getting a good night’s rest can feel even more difficult.
If you’re like me, you’ve had to find a few aids and strategies to help you fall asleep and stay asleep, whether you’re at home or on the road. I rarely sleep on planes, and my body loves to wake me up after five hours in bed. It’s essential that I pack items to help me rest on the road, and I’ve found a few that have done the trick.
Create a “bed time” environment
At home I love a dark room and absolute silence, and I do my best to mimic this on a crowded plane. While some airlines provide eyes masks and ear plugs for long-haul flights, I prefer to pack my own. Ear plugs don’t drown out all of the noise, but they help reduce the sounds of the screaming babies, coughers, talkers, and frequent lavatory goers.
As much as I need silence, others need background noise from music or the TV. If you prefer something different to the constant hum of the plane and noise from fellow passengers, put your favorite movies, shows, or tunes on your media player. Replace ear plugs with ear buds.
Economy seats won’t remind you of your mattress at home, but a pillow and blanket may help you feel more at rest. Use the ones the airline provides or consider bringing your own. Neck pillows vary from ones you inflate, those stuffed with various materials, to mini “regular” pillows. While I don’t use my travel Tempurpedic pillow on the plane, it’s one of my favorite luxury items to use when sleeping at my destination.
“Sleepy time” picks
I love herbal teas and Celestial Seasonings has my favorite herbal and fruit flavored teas. There’s even a Sleepytime tea with chamomile, spearmint, and lemongrass! If you enjoy tea, check out the coffee and tea aisle at your local grocery store or consider visiting a natural/health food shop to explore a wider variety and ask questions from a knowledgeable staff member. Pack a tea bag or two for the plane and ask for hot water when the flight attendants make their rounds. Tip: As natural herbs can affect us differently, you may wish to research teas and speak with your doctor first.
In addition to tea, consider lotions, sprays, and other body products that can help you relax and sleep. Bath and Body Works has an aromatherapy line and offers a variety of products to help with sleep. I own their “stress relief pillow mist spray” and “sleep lotion” and love them both. The “sleep” products are made with lavender and vanilla or lavender and chamomile, and they offer easy-to-pack lotion, body mist, and pillow mist (among other choices). Your local bath and body care shop, or the local health food store, will most likely have similar options.
Oral sleep aids
Whether you choose a natural sleep aid, one that’s available at the pharmacy over the counter (no prescription needed), or one prescribed by your doctor, an oral sleep aid can help you find a multi-hour sleep on the plane (and once at your destination). As with any medicinal aid, speak with your doctor to learn what’s best for you.
Melatonin is one of the body’s naturally occurring hormones, which helps regulate our sleep and wake cycles. After recently hearing several friends rave about taking Melatonin supplements, I’m going to speak with my doctor about a recommended dose.
If you choose an oral sleep aid, be sure to test it before you leave home to see how it affects your body.
>> Also check out our post on what to pack for sleeping anywhere.
Are you one of those travelers I envy, who can fall asleep anywhere at any time? Or are you more like me and need one (or more) tricks and tools to help you rest? Tell us your favorite item to pack to help you sleep, whether it’s from the list above or one I missed!