Work Travel & Sleep
Make sleep your business when you’re traveling
Planes, trains, and automobiles – traveling for work means always being prepared. You have to prep work notes for the big meeting, plan all of your outfits to fit in the smallest suitcase possible, and you have to be ready to handle any travel curveball fate may bestow upon you. Good or bad. Are you as well traveled as George Clooney in Up in the Air? Could you write a post about it while snoozing in business class? Do you know all the right lines to go through at the airport? What hotels to avoid? How to optimize your corporate dinner stipend? But how much sleep are you getting? Business travel demands hectic schedules, superior work performances, heavy meals and often late nights, but what your body demands is sleep, and plenty of it. You might have mastered the ability to skimp on sleep and feel like champ but are you keyed into the relationship between sleep and performance?
The first hours of sleep we lose on a work trip happen before you even leave home. The night before a trip you’re likely finishing up presentations, making sure the kids have rides to their activities, throwing in that last load of laundry and confirming travel details. To ensure you aren’t behind before you even start, keep some of these tips in mind to help you get a head of the game we call, how much sleep I can get.
- Plan ahead – Create a to-do list and start checking off items throughout the days leading up to your trip. You don’t want to be running around attempting to pull everything all together last minute. This way you can be sure to get to bed at a reasonable time the night before your trip.
- Be sleep ready – Put together a sleep kit so you’re prepared to sleep in every environment you come across. Ear plugs, eye covers, sound machine, soothing music playlist, maybe a candle. Bringing a few luxury items from home can help you feel more relaxed in an unfamiliar room.
- Exercise – Give yourself a little bit of an edge and try to get a workout in the day before your trip. A great way to get your head in the game for an upcoming meeting or presentation.
- Dress for success – Wearing something comfortable, loose-fitting and layered can make you much more relaxed on the plane while traveling. You may change temperature during travel and if you’re trying to sneak in a nap on the plane you don’t want to be too hot or too cold.
- Stress less & prepare for the worst – We can’t control the weather, the delays or the person who thought it was a great idea to bring a tuna sandwich and sit next to you on the plane. So just let go, it’s the cost of doing business and can make for a great story at dinner. Throw on your head phones and let a relaxing playlist take you to your happy place.
Up, up & away – sleeping in flight
With a long flight a head of you and maybe a not so great night sleep behind you, getting some shut eye while traveling can make all the difference when you land and hit the ground running.
- Get comfortable – Bring a travel pillow and if you get cold easily, pack a travel blanket (not always supplied by airlines anymore). Add or remove your layers and take off your shoes – do this with consideration and make sure the smell won’t be worse than the passenger with the tuna sandwich.
- Drink water – H2O will help combat dehydration and the dry air recycled on planes. If you drink beverages with carbonation it may give you gas, which again may be worse than that tuna sandwich. Also try and avoid alcohol and caffeine as they can increase dehydration. This will either help you avoid the wine and spirits or maybe set you up for a party but one drink in the air equals 2 on the ground, so drink responsibly.
- Ear pressure – Ouch! The worst part of flying. If you’re dealing with any sort of cold or sinus congestion, this may be worse while flying so take precautions. Some quick ways to relieve ear pressure is by chewing gum or frequently making yourself yawn.
- Nap carefully – Take into consideration the length of your flight. If you have a shorter flight, try not to nap for more than 30-45 minutes. You want to be alert when you land and not nap yourself into drowsiness. For longer flights a longer nap is great, even just to pass time. Try to nap during the latter part of your flight, allowing you to feel refreshed and ready to take on work when you land. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, dive into your sleep kit and pull out some sleep tools such as ear plugs, eye covers or your music.
Once you’ve arrived at your destination the serious sleep prep begins. You don’t want to worry about all the things that are keeping you awake in the middle of the night when you have to be on point in the morning. Try out this hotel checklist to help you get on the snooze train when you’re away from home.
- Check reviews online before booking the hotel to make sure it meets all your needs.
- Request a room away from the hustle and bustle of the ballroom/nightclub, bar or restaurant. Ask for a room on a quiet floor.
- Bring items from home to make yourself feel more comfortable such as a candle or sound machine.
- Adjust the room temperature and lighting to fit your sleeping preferences.
- Handle any issues in the room that may keep you from sleeping right away – noisy fan, broken shades, etc.
- Establish your bed as a sleep-only zone. Try not to do work on your bed, your brain needs to know that the bed is for sleeping and not staying up stressing about an email.
- Stick to your regular bedtime routine as much as possible. This will help your body and brain know it’s time to power down and relax.
- Utilize that Do Not Disturb sign. You want to keep the early morning knock from housekeeping at bay when you’re trying to squeeze a few extra minutes of sleep or prep time for your meeting.
- Tap into your sleep kit and utilize every measure possible to make sure you get some good sleep hours clocked in.
Quick Do’s and Don’ts for work travel
- Do let the sunshine in – Exposing yourself to sun during the day helps regulate your internal sleep clock that can be thrown out-of-whack a bit from changing time zones.
- Don’t drink too much coffee – A go-to-wake-up-solution is to reach for that Columbian blend, but this can have a negative effect on sleep later. Stop caffeine intake 4 to 6 hours before its lights out.
- Do allow for a nap – A quick power nap can set you up for a good burst of needed energy.
- Don’t overdo it on the alcohol – On work trips, it’s easy to indulge and it’s also easy to loose good sleep and wake up with a headache. Moderation is key.
- Do relax before bed – Allow for your brain and body to slowly work its way to relaxation by sticking to your normal nighttime rituals. I know when I try to throw my head on the pillow right away I keep myself awake by thinking off all the things I have to do the next day.
- Don’t go to bed hungry – Or with a full heavy meal in your belly. Both of these extremes can keep you up at night.
- Do exercise – Regular exercise can be a great way to help you get a good night’s sleep. Find the right time and work out for you and sweat it out!