Once I upgraded my sleeping surface size to California king, I found my sleep rhythm. It sounds funny, right? The extra space is calming under the covers, not even the snoring of my husband keeps me awake all night. So naturally holiday travel gives me sleep anxiety – a new room, smaller bed, noise, and not to mention the pack n play under my nose. Don’t get me wrong, I have learned a few tricks in order to reap the benefits of a good night of sleep when traveling.
The jet lag factor is the same whether you fly to Paris from NYC in the winter or the summer. What is of equal importance is tackling environment – temperatures affect sleep quality in different ways. For colder destinations bringing a weighted blanket simulates the feeling of a hug. Research shows this helps with insomnia and anxiety in adults.
As co-founder of an international nonprofit Henna Hundal is no stranger to challenging sleeping environments. Hundal shares, “I find that it’s helpful to try to replicate the personalized features of your home environment that are conducive to optimal sleep in your travel lodging as well — for example, in our work with marginalized groups located in underserved areas, we find that it can be helpful to bring portable humidifiers to enhance air quality for sleep”.
Pink Noise vs. White Noise
If two people are talking chances are your brain will pick up on it and you start listening and understanding. If 1000 people are talking chances are you won’t pick up on just one voice. White noise operates by this factor, and is a common choice for travelers. Martin Reed, a certified clinical sleep health educator, believes that pink noise is a better choice. “Pink noise emphasizes lower frequencies and occurs more frequently in nature. Whereas white noise sounds like radio static, pink noise sounds more like rushing water. So, pink noise is thought to sound more ‘natural’ than white noise”, says Reed. In a study done by Frontiers in Human Neuroscience it suggests that pink noise can improve sleep and memory.
What You Do Before Bed Matters
The mind’s normal way of dealing with a different sleep environment is to be on guard, or more watchful and aroused, each of which is the reverse of what should be happening to allow a restful night of sleep. To initiate sleep, muscle activity, breathing rate, and heart rate slow down. Austin Martinez, CSCS and Director of Education for StretchLab, says, “a great night’s sleep is all about eliminating or reducing pain in the body. Most of us typically hold tension in our neck, shoulders and back, particularly after traveling in long car rides or on cramped flights. By doing a few simple stretches before bed, you can easily alleviate this tension, loosen up your muscles and prepare your body for a restful night”.
For more health and wellness insights, follow me @drrubinatahir