Why I find it so hard to sleep while travelling

Considering the amount of travel I’ve done so far in my life, you’d think I’d have this whole sleeping while travelling thing sorted out by now. Unfortunately, my sleep problems seem to only get worse as I get older.

I have personally found long flights to be the worst. At this stage, I’ve accepted the fact that I will never be able to sleep on a plane. It’s sad, but it is what it is. I can, however, sleep on an overnight train as long as I get a lie-down bed. Obviously my main problem is finding a comfortable position to sleep.

I’m also a very light sleeper (I get that from my mum). The slightest noise will wake me up, and don’t even get me started on people who snore (when did it become acceptable to snore loudly on an airplane?)

By now, I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to sleeping while travelling. On overnight trains, I need some thick earplugs to drown out the noise of other passengers. I’ll sometimes take a sleeping pill, and will spend time reading a good book before I go to sleep- keeping my nightly routine makes me feel more at home.

If I have a long flight with a stopover, I’ll typically look for a longer stopover and book into a hotel. I even have problems sleeping in hotels sometimes, as my body knows it’s in a different place and I sometimes worry I won’t wake up in time for my next flight. On my last flight from Asia to Europe, I stopped at Abu Dhabi and checked into an airport hotel. I had a nice meal, a hot bath, and decked myself out in an eye mask and ear plugs. I also told reception that I would be sleeping all day, and asked them for the quietest room possible.

According to a survey by adjustablebeds.co.uk, 80% of respondents said they need somewhere between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night. I personally need at least 8 to 9, or I can’t get out of bed in the morning.

I don’t know about you, but I’m awful when I don’t have enough sleep. I can’t concentrate, and I become weepy and emotional. Other effects of a lack of sleep include being short tempered and irritable, being unable to take in new information, and eventually suffering from health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

According to the survey, two of the most common reasons why people couldn’t sleep were noise (30%) and temperature (24%). You may also find it hard to sleep if you use your mobile phone or laptop before trying to sleep, eat a heavy meal, drink caffeine or alcohol, or smoke.

One of the best ways to get a great sleep while travelling is to use earplugs and an eye mask. If you’re stopping over, ditch the uncomfortable airport seats and spring for a hotel- you’ll be so thankful you did when it’s time to get on your next flight!

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