Sleep travel trends and tips from our experts

December 29, 2020 8 mins read
Sleep travel trends and tips from our experts

You’ve worked hard all year. Really hard. And you’re in dire need of a vacation. So you go online to book that awesome country cottage for your 2-week break and you pat yourself on the back, letting out a big sigh of relief. Accommodation? Check!

But you’re not done yet, because somehow you find yourself Googling activities near this tranquil cottage and before you know it, your calendar is filled up with day trips, hikes, dinners, parties and as many adventures as you can possibly squeeze in. You never get to go on vacation, so you’re making sure you’ll make the most out of it.

By the time your vacation is done and you’ve had (more than) your fill of fun, you realize you’re more tired and stressed out than before. That wasn’t much of a break, was it?

That could be your vacation. Or you could join a new crowd that is looking to destress and catch up on some much-needed sleep – away from home. Whether it be in a 5-star sleep resort, a sleep hotel, or even under the stars, these sleep-prioritizing travel trends come with amazing health and wellbeing benefits.

Here are some of the latest sleep and travel trends hitting the U.S. that might just help you on your journey to a deep slumber.

Circadian sleep travel might just be a dream come true

You’ve heard us talk about circadian rhythm before. To recap, the circadian rhythm guides the sleep and wake cycles of all living things (including us) and is fine-tuned to sync up with sunlight, thereby determining our sleep patterns.

If your circadian rhythm gets disrupted on a regular basis, it can lead to some serious health issues that can affect your heart, your metabolism and even reproduction, so dancing to the same tune as your circadian rhythm is important for your sleep cycle and your health.

This brings us to “circadian travel” – the new buzzword used to describe the people who are traveling to sleep retreats across the globe in destinations like Thailand, the Maldives, Mauritius, Switzerland and India, all in search of some decent shut-eye.

From wellness consultations with sleep specialists and sleep-promoting meals to yoga, meditation and, of course, the perfect room to sleep in (with all the latest sleep mod-cons you’d expect), chances are you’ll leave there completely rested, recharged, and with your body’s natural sleeping pattern restored.

Checking into a sleep hotel

If you’re not getting enough sleep but the idea of spending a week at a retreat just doesn’t sound like something you’d enjoy (or have time for), then perhaps a few nights in a sleep hotel might do the trick.

Hotels are tapping into the trend of “clean sleeping” and are putting guests’ sleep experiences on top of their priority list. Sleeping clean has nothing to do with your personal hygiene, but rather your sleep hygiene and hotels are starting to tap into the importance of good sleep hygiene by offering specialized services to help you sleep better.

These services range from spa sessions to rooms designed to promote a good night’s rest – from ensuring the ultimate temperature, light and noise control to creating a space that is calming and soothing. If you’re looking for a peaceful sleep experience, whether you’re on a business trip or traveling for leisure, sleep hotels might be the solution you crave.

Gazing at stars and chasing the sun

For the more adventurous sleeper, there’s always the option of falling asleep under a blanket of stars. This new sleep travel trend is gaining in popularity as more and more people want to connect with the great outdoors in locations that offer peaceful nights and tranquil mornings.

We all know that spending time in nature is an effective medicine for our mental and physical wellbeing and more than ever people are looking for spaces to breathe freely and think about life.

With light exposure being one of the biggest factors influencing our sleep, waking up in natural morning light after an evening under the stars has some great benefits. These include waking up naturally, being more alert and getting your circadian rhythm back on track.

Sleep travel tips

Have you noticed that when you travel you tend to have a pretty restless night’s sleep on your first night? This is what scientists are calling the ‘first night effect.’ It happens when the left side of your brain is on guard and alert in your new surroundings, while the right side is asleep.

The result? A tired and cranky traveler the next morning.

To help you try to avoid ‘first night effect’ and other sleep disruptions when traveling, try the tips below.

Prep your body clock for international travel

Getting jet lag when traveling across timezones is inevitable, but you can cheat it a little and spend fewer days feeling like a sleepwalking zombie.

  • Manipulate your body clock by adjusting your light exposure before your trip. If you’re traveling west, wake up and go to bed 1 hour later. Traveling east? Wake up and go to bed 1 hour earlier.
  • If you struggle to sleep on a plane, get at least 30 minutes of strenuous exercise on the day of your flight. This might help you nod off more easily.
  • Avoid the alcohol trap – it will only leave you feeling dehydrated and exhausted when you get to your destination. Water is your friend!
  • You’re bound to be tired, but try not to nap and if you can’t keep your eyes open, rest for 90 minutes (a full sleep cycle) and nothing more.

Steal some z’s in transit

Unless you’re flying the plane, keeping the train on track or driving the car, you can definitely catch up on some sleep while in transit.

When you’re stuck in a plane at 35,000 feet, there’s not much that you can do about the chaos and the noise (screaming children, noisy phones and a drinks trolley crashing into your knee every 30 minutes). There are, however, a few clever ways to get some sleep.

To eliminate the drinks-trolley-knee-bruising-scenario, choose a window seat. It will keep you at a safe distance from the air hostess and her bumper trolley and it will give you something to lean on (away from the stranger next to you.)

Other tricks include limiting your carry-on luggage to one bag (more space for you), avoiding in-flight coffee (it will only keep you awake), and using a natural sleeping aid. You can also invest in a great neck pillow and noise-canceling headphones (they will change your life).

On the tracks and on the road, make sure you’re wearing loose-fitting comfortable clothing, and pack a comfortable pillow and blanket. Train and car windows are quite large, which could mean glaring sunlight in your eyes while in transit, so pack an eye mask to block out unwanted light.

It’s still up to your lifestyle

While sleep hotels and sleep retreats are great (and possibly just what the doctor ordered), it’s important to still consider your lifestyle habits and how they can affect your quality of sleep.

  • Stick to a sleep schedule with regular bedtimes.
  • Get into a morning exercise routine – a 30-minute walk will make all the difference.
  • You are what you eat and it affects your sleep. Include loads of fiber-rich foods in your diet (legumes, vegetables, fruit and grains) as well as nuts and fish. Avoid refined carbs, processed food and high sugar drinks.
  • Find things that help you relax, from reading a book to practicing some sleep meditation or joining a yoga class.

Sleep debt can play havoc in your everyday life, short-term and long-term. Your body needs sleep to repair itself and to re-energize. In turn, this will help you make the most of your time in your destination. And remember, if you’re still struggling to sleep, whether on a business trip or on holiday, it’s time to speak to a sleep doctor.

Hotel hacks for good sleep

The first obvious step to getting a good night’s sleep in a hotel is to book a decent hotel. When booking the room, request a quiet one away from all the usual hotel noise. Pack your favorite pillow (you’ll be happy you did!) and, if you’re a light sleeper and frequent traveler, a white noise machine might just be a great investment.

Other small things you can do for a better night’s sleep are using earplugs or noise-canceling headphones, wearing an eye mask to bed, putting your phone away, and making sure your room is at a cool temperature, the curtains are drawn and that any flickering lights are covered with all those extra towels from the bathroom.

Travel sleep aids

There are so many options when it comes to choosing gadgets that will help you sleep, but here are 5 of our favorites. And while some of these might look a bit silly, they should put you to sleep in no time.

  • Airplane footrest: This is great for when you want to put your feet up. It’s portable, very comfortable and is said to reduce swollen travel-ankles and aid circulation.
  • The Sound + Sleep Mini: If you’re a fan of white noise machines to help you get to sleep, then this is for you. It’s small enough to use for your travels, it runs on battery power so you don’t have to worry about looking for somewhere to plug it in and has a timer so you can set it to shut off automatically after 30 – 60 minutes.
  • Melatonin spray and gummies: Eat some gummies or spray some melatonin into your mouth about half an hour before you want to sleep.
  • Light therapy glasses: These glasses are great for reduced jet lag, better sleep and improved energy. Pop them on for 60 minutes a day for light therapy on the go.
  • The Flight Fillow: A great little travel companion because it lets you turn any sweater or jacket into a cozy travel pillow. Sweater when you’re cold. Pillow when you’re sleepy. Brilliant.