18 Tips for the Christmas Traveler to Sleep Like a Baby

Christmas is almost here, with all the wonder and flurry that it represents. Traveling to other destinations to celebrate can be both exciting and tiring, too, if not adequately prepared. These 18 sound suggestions will encourage you to have restful travel and rejuvenating sleep.

Sleep... the all-important elixir of life!

Though the average adult typically needs eight hours of sleep each night studies show that our hectic North American lifestyle is contributing to sleep deprivation. Many people are shortening the amount of time they allot for sleep to accommodate their busy lives, even at the risk of their health and safety.

Sleep is a vital function... not a luxury to be frivolous with!

All humans need two types of sleep; Non-Rapid Eye Movement sleep (non-REM sleep) and Rapid Eye Movement sleep (REM sleep). Our deepest physical rejuvenation comes during NREM sleep, when our bodies and brain slow down the most, occuring in the first third of our sleep period. Our mental and physiological rejuvenation occurs during REM sleep, a time of fast eye movements, very active brainwave patterns and dreaming. This period is longer and occurs during the second half of our sleep cycle. Without this quality sleep, a deficit grows and we suffer the consequences.

You may already have had experience with how challenging sleep can be for travellers, many averaging only six hours of sleep a night. Changing time zones disrupts our internal body clock, interrupts our familiar food and exercise patterns, resulting in disturbed sleep and deprivation.

When travelling to a different time zone, our internal (circadian) clock needs time to adjust. Jet lag is created because our internal systems need time to adjust, the sleep and wake cycle adjusts at one rate, while temperature rhythm changes at a different pace. Due to time zone changes, you may be wide awake on "home time" while the place you visit is sound asleep, and visa versa. I will always remember looking over at my husband sound asleep beside me as we toured Paris... daytime there, but nighttime back at home!

18 Tips to relax and sleep like a baby when you're away from home include;

1. Take familiar, feel good home items that encourage you to feel "home away from home" such as your pillow, family photos, candles, aroma therapy bath products, etc.

2. Supplement your reduced sleep with short naps (even on Christmas Day) because a little sleep is better than none.

3. Ask for a room away from noisier areas (elevators, ventilation systems, stairwells and lounges).

4. If travelling for only a few days, it may be more beneficial to keep your internal body clock on your own 'home time' than to try and adjust. This includes sleep times as well as meal times, because even your stomach has to adjust during travel.

5. Be smart around the use of stimulants, such as coffee to keep awake. Time your consumption to when you need a lift, but not close to needing to unwind. Though many people like to have a few drinks to "unwind," alcohol consumed within 3-4 hours of bedtime can actually disrupt sleep quality. Instead, drink camomile tea or steamed milk for their relaxing, sleepy effects.

6. Avoid eating a big meal before you want to sleep or your body will get busy digesting, rather than slow down to replenish! If you really must, eat smartly and sparingly, choosing foods that will not produce stimulating effects.

7. Plan gentle evening activities that will induce sleep (so avoid TV news, etc).

8. Though exercise close to bedtime is thought to tire you out it can stimulate you awake instead. A restful session of progressive relaxation stretches or yoga poses, however, will do the job of mellowing your mind and body for sleep.

9. If you're tempted to take a pharmaceutical to induce sleep, talk to your family doctor first and know possible side effects. As an alternate, Valerian is a natural remedy to promote drowsiness.

10. Spray your pillow with aroma therapy lavender mist infused for its relaxing effect.

11. Languish in a soothing bath infused with lavender... sigh.

12. Set your environment to maximize sleep... close the draperies, set the temperature to cool rather than warm, place the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the doorknob and hold all phone calls.

13. Wear snuggly, loose-fitting cotton socks to bed... this definitely helps me sleep better!

14. Wear an eye mask for extra darkness.

15. Travel with a portable CD or digital player and listen to nature music or a relaxation meditation to unwind!

16. Earplugs are a blessing to mask unfamiliar sounds... and snoring, too!

17. This might sound funny but, if a busy mind keeps you awake interrupt it as though you are boss and say, "No, this is not the time to sort things out, this is my time to sleep and replenish! I'll sort those details out tomorrow when I am rested and able to think clearly." Stand your ground... it might take a little practice!

18. If you toss and turn for more than 20-30 minutes get up, read or listen to your relaxation CD until you feel drowsy, then try again.

There you have it, a long list of ideas to implement while you travel to induce quality relaxation and deep sleep. I put my own tips to good use recently... you can too.

Happy travels! May you have a lovely Christmas... and sleep like a baby, too!

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