What impact does travel have on our sleep?

With many people excited for their summer getaway, it’s important to keep good sleep in mind

For a lot of us, this summer marks the first chance we’ve had to travel abroad since before the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s understandable therefore that holidaymakers are more than a little excited to jet off and enjoy some sunshine.

However, if you’re out of practice with travelling overseas, there are a few things you may need reminding of, and one of them is about the impact travel can have on your sleep.

Depending on how far you’re flying this summer, your sleep schedule could take a toll. We’ve got all the information you need to ensure that bad sleep doesn’t ruin your 2022 summer getaway.

How can travel disrupt your sleep health?

While travel leads to exciting experiences and memories that last a lifetime, it can also bring potential downsides when it comes to sleep. The most common form this takes is travel fatigue, with symptoms such as exhaustion, headaches, sleep loss and general discomfort.

Certain factors can make travel fatigue more likely to occur, such as a fear of flying, anxiety about problems on the trip, motion sickness, delays, stress surrounding packing or time keeping, and long days of travel. Ultimately, anything that puts a strain on your mental and physical robustness can lead to travel fatigue. This, in turn, can cause disruptions to your sleep quality and schedule.

Another common pitfall of travel – specifically long distance travel – is jet lag. Crossing numerous time zones can impact your circadian rhythm and result in a misalignment with the local time zone. As such, you may find it difficult to fall asleep at night. As well as causing difficulty sleeping, jet lag can also lead to impaired physical and mental performance, daytime sleepiness and even gastrointestinal problems.

While jet lag tends to last for a few days, it can persist for up to a few weeks, and is usually more severe when travelling West to East.

How to sleep better when you travel

There are certain steps you can take to improve your travel experience and protect your sleep health when visiting overseas. Remove some of the stress of travel by giving yourself plenty of time in the airport, keeping children on a consistent sleep schedule, and planning your travel effectively.

To protect your sleep health, avoid drinking alcohol on your flight, and instead stay hydrated. If you’re travelling overnight, attempt to sleep on your plane. As soon as you touch down in your new location, you should start adhering to that location’s time zone. So if you land at 11pm, you should try to sleep until the next morning, even if you don’t feel tired.

To help you sleep, keep your bedroom cool and dark. Avoid using screens in the run up to sleep, and instead try to wind down by reading, meditating, having a bath or stretching. Likewise, avoid bright lights, caffeine and alcohol, as this can make it more difficult to shut down your mind.

It’s important to prioritise sleeping well when you travel, as this will help you feel more rested on holiday and will likely result in a more enjoyable trip overall.

The best sleep happens on a high-quality mattress, so check out the Perks range now. You can also explore the rest of our blog for more sleep news and tips.

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