As the editor of Journeywoman.com,
I often travel long distances by air to unfamiliar and wonderful
places. This frequent flying has done nothing to help my body
adjust to the sleep deprivation that comes with the territory.
It still rebels when crossing many time zones on what seems
like endless international flights to the other side of the
world. Strange beds, new bedtimes and different diets will definitely
affect any travellin' woman's sleep patterns. That's why I've
developed a bunch of strategies to help me from being sleepless
in Seattle, Singapore or Seoul.
ready a day early...
One of my "sleep well
tactics" is to get to bed early the night
before I travel. I know this sounds almost impossible
but not if you treat two nights before you leave
as your deadline. For example: if you are scheduled
to fly very early Saturday A.M., then treat Thursday
night as your deadline for having all your office
work completed, your clothes laundered and ready
to be put into your suitcase, newspapers cancelled,
friends notified, dog bathed, and so on. Friday
then becomes less harried and you have ample opportunity
to accomplish everything you need to do without
burning the midnight oil -- time to get your manicure,
meet a pal for lunch, pack your suitcase, etc.
Waking up refreshed the day of travel goes a long
way in setting the tone of your trip.
an extra layer...
I pack not only my regular cotton
nightgown but also a loose long sleeved tee-shirt
that I can pop over that nightgown if I am too
cold during the night. The shirt takes up little
room in my suitcase but it comes in so very handy
when I can't seem to control either my own body's
thermostat or the thermostat in my hotel room.
a strategic room location...
Whenever I make hotel or B&B reservations
anywhere in the world, I specify that I don't
want my room facing onto a busy thoroughfare.
This way while I might miss out on an interesting
view, there's always a better chance that I'll
get a good night's sleep. A room that fronts on
a main street often means a symphony of assorted
traffic sounds well into the wee small hours.
However, be prepared! The best travel plans often
go awry and you could end up in a noisy room.
That's why carrying a pair of ear plugs in your
cosmetic bag makes a lot of sense.
as loose as pajamas...
If I'm travelling
overnight, I wear loose, long-sleeved clothing
-- made of breathable natural fibers -- that will
allow me to fall asleep on the plane in as comfortable
a position as possible. I always have an extra
pair of socks and a shawl in my carry-on. Once
the plane reaches cruising altitude, I exchange
my shoes for socks and my shawl becomes either
my wrap, my pillow or my blanket.
Once on board I like to adjust my watch to the local
time at my destination. This helps to adjust my
internal clock as well. I don't normally eat at
2:00 AM and seldom am I watching TV at 4:00 AM so
why do it on an airplane? My body might not be ready
to sleep when my wristwatch tells it to but at least
I can close my eyes and relax my body to the best
of my ability.
Advising your flight attendant not to wake you if
you are sleeping during the meal service is always
a good idea. They will probably be kind enough to
serve your tray when you wake up later on. The other
alternative is to pack a light picnic -- some fruit,
whole grain bread and a bit of protein (cold chicken
or mild cheese) which will be available when you're
ready for it. Drink, drink, drink water every time
it's offered to you.
terrific travel accessory...
I recently discovered the horseshoe-shaped Tempur
Transit Pillow which provides excellent support
for your neck while travelling on a plane or in
a car. What seems to make this pillow so different
from all the others is that it's made of an heavenly
material (originally developed for the Space Program)
which molds, via your own body heat, to the exact
contours of your neck. All I can say is...to try
it is to love it. It spoils you silly!