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She Sleeps Well -- She Travels Well

Evelyn Hannon

As the editor of, 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.

Preparing for travel

Be 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.

Pack 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.

Pick 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.

Clothes 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.

Adjust your watch...
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.
Pack a picnic...
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.
A 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 try it is to love it. It spoils you silly!


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