Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Here Are Some Tips for Better Sleep While Traveling

Sometimes, it’s hard enough to get a good night’s sleep at home. When we’re traveling, it can feel even harder. What can we do to finally fall and stay asleep?

Just because we’re away from home doesn’t mean we have to go sleepless wherever we’re traveling. Here’s some advice on how to get some rest so you can better enjoy your trip.

Why Is It Tough to Sleep While Traveling?

A look outside the airplane during nightfall.
Photo by Andrew Davey Andrew Davey/The Manual

If you’re on a long flight, train ride, or car ride that extends into the night, we can easily understand how and why jet lag happens. That plane, train, or car seat probably wasn’t designed primarily for sleep. The surroundings may be particularly loud and bright. The occasional turbulence doesn’t help, either.

If you’re camping outdoors, there’s the whole matter of adjusting to the outdoor environment and having the right equipment to feel comfortable. Even if you’re at the hotel or vacation rental unit, it’s nonetheless a different environment that your body has to adapt to. Fortunately, we have solutions at hand that can help in making that home away from home feel more like a restful home.

What Can We Do to Get Some Sleep?

A bed in a hotel room.
Photo by Andrew Davey Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you’re preparing for a trip that lasts three days or longer, try moving your bedtime at least an hour earlier, starting three days before you leave. It might also be worthwhile to start taking melatonin at your preferred bedtime in the time zone you’re venturing to. Melatonin is the hormone that helps you sleep, and extensive travel may disrupt your circadian rhythm, as the experts at Johns Hopkins University and the National Sleep Foundation have noted, so an extra boost of melatonin may help restore your internal balance.

Once you reach your destination, try to get some natural light as soon as you can. Daytime exercise can also help in restoring your body’s circadian rhythm and reminding your body that you need sleep. Since dehydration can exacerbate jet lag, make sure to drink plenty of water during your trip and be careful when indulging in alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, as they can exacerbate dehydration.

What Else Can We Do for a Better Night’s Sleep While Traveling?

A look inside an Amtrak train's business class car.
Photo by Andrew Davey Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you’re doing a nighttime flight, train ride, or road trip, try powering down your electronic devices, as they emit blue light that confuses your circadian rhythm at night. If you can, sit by the window, as that can give you more control over your lighting. Make sure to bring accessories like a travel pillow, an eye mask, earplugs, and a travel blanket to add some comfort while blocking unwanted disruptions like noise and bright light. If you need something stronger to provide peace and quiet, remember to bring a good pair of noise-canceling headphones to block out that noise. Then, try a podcast, such as Sleep with Me, Slow Radio, You Must Remember This, and Criminal (yes, really!). They can calm you down, distract you from outside interference, and make it easier to doze off.

If you’re at your destination and trying to figure out how to fall asleep, keep your space as dark and as quiet as you can in order to create a better environment for sleep. If you’re at a hotel room or vacation rental with a controllable thermostat, lower the temperature a bit. If you’re camping, make sure your air mattress or sleeping bag is ready before you call it a night. Wherever you’re staying the night, maintain your typical bedtime routine — whether it involves a hot bath, some light evening reading, or flipping on some classical music — to remind your body when to prepare for sleep.

Editors' Recommendations

Andrew Davey
Andrew Davey is a writer who has spent a long time in "hard news" journalism, but who has also pursued interests in food and…
Spring cleaning time: How to organize (in 6 easy steps) and clean your closet like a pro
The ultimate guide to closet organization with expert tips
Man choosing clothes at his walk-in closet

Like personal finance or basic kitchen skills, organizing your closet isn’t something that gets taught anymore. Now is the perfect time to refresh your drawers and cabinets for a fresh new season. If you’re like most guys, your parents (i.e., your mom) did this for you while you were growing up, sneaking into your bedroom while you were out to collect your sh** from off the floor and put it back into your closet and drawers where it belonged.

Focusing on something you can control — the clutter in your closet — is a rare treat. Organizing your closet is an undeniably good use of free time, and it will make it easier to find items you're looking for.

Read more
Ranked: The 12 best Seth Rogen movies to watch now
From Long Shot to Pineapple Express, these are the best Seth Rogen films to stream
Seth Rogen

While you probably know him best for being one of the most popular stoners in pop culture, Seth Rogen has become one of the biggest actors/producers in Hollywood. Not surprisingly, a lot of the movies he's helped get made, whether he starred in them or not, are chock-full of humor that is perfect for both stoners and anyone who just likes to laugh. Rogen's cultural impact has been huge, and it comes from relatively humble Canadian beginnings.
Movies with Seth Rogen have tended to do well, even if there are a few more forgettable titles mixed in as well. And whenever he's done something a bit more dramatic, he's pulled that off as well. Wherever you try to slot Rogen, he usually fits, which is why this list of the best Seth Rogen movies is pretty diverse. Don't get us wrong, there is plenty of comedy here, too. Rogen's made plenty of great ones, and some of them made the cut for this list.

12. Funny People (2009)

Read more
Get ready for the NBA playoffs and stream the best basketball documentaries today
These documentaries about basketball tell the stories behind the world's greatest NBA stars
Michael Jordan in The Last Dance

Basketball is a worldwide phenomenon. The sport that started as a desperate idea from Canadian-American physical education teacher James Naismith has evolved into a cultural touchstone for kids and adults alike all over the planet, as well as an excellent workout.

Some of the most famous celebrities on Earth have played basketball, from Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant to LeBron James and Magic Johnson. The vibrant personalities and stories behind these prominent basketball figures have led to keen public curiosity about their upbringings, their struggles, and their internal triumphs.

Read more