How to sleep well while you’re travelling

WT Writer
Jun 8, 2020

It may be the last thing on your mind while you’re on an exciting holiday, but making sure you sleep well while travelling will help you enjoy your break to the max

A whopping 80% of travellers struggle to sleep when staying away from home, says recent research*. Settling into a new environment and hearing unfamiliar noises are among the top sleep saboteurs that can leave you tossing and turning in the early hours, but feeling far from rested may mean your holiday experience falls flat. We picked the brains of Dr David Lewis, a sleep expert, chartered psychologist and CEO of Mindlab International, for his top tips for sleeping well while travelling in order to seize the day…

Get in the timezone

“When travelling across time zones, especially with children, set your watch to the local time in the area you are visiting the moment your flight takes off,” says Dr Lewis. It’ll help you to adjust more easily on the other side. Plus, flying can take a toll on the mind but not the body, so be sure to get some light exercise – even a 10-minute stroll in the fresh air once you touch down can work wonders.”

Personalise your room

“If you have difficulty dropping off when you’re away from home, bring a couple of personal possessions with you on your travels, such as photos of your loved ones [if you’re travelling solo], a lucky charm or, for children, a favourite doll or teddy bear,” says Dr Lewis. “Placing them on the bedside table and looking at them before you turn off the light will help you settle into a more comfortable and familiar mindset.”

Keep up your good habits

“Make sure the bed is warm, but the room is cool and well aired,” he suggests. “Also keep the room as dark as possible, as even a small amount of light, such as the LED on a TV or radio, can make it harder to sleep.” As you may already do at home, avoid caffeine and screen time three hours prior to bedtime, and try to stick to your usual routine as much as possible in order to trigger the body and mind to prepare for sleep.

Eat slumber-inducing foods

“Dehydration is common among travellers, even on short haul trips, so make sure you stay well hydrated,” says Dr Lewis. “The ideal bedtime tipple is a warm milky drink. Milk contains the sleep-inducing substance tryptophan and warming it up releases milk sugars that feed the body during sleep.”

If you need a snack, reach for a banana. “It also contains tryptophan and has a high potassium content that helps prevent nighttime cramps while also fighting jet-lag.”

Still the mind

“If you have something on your mind, try writing it down,” he says. “This will help prevent distracting thoughts racing around your mind the moment your head touches the pillow. A warm, relaxing bath is a better way to end the day than a shower which tends to make you feel more wide-awake.” Reading a few pages of a good book has been proven to help unwind the mind.

Drift off to your favourite scent

“The brain is extremely sensitive to unfamiliar smells and aromas, and while these may be hard to avoid, they can often be masked by bringing along your own favourite essential oil and sprinkling it on the pillow,” says Dr Lewis. “The six most effective oils for this purpose are: clary sage, lavender, roman chamomile, sweet marjoram
and valerian**.” 

Dr. David Lewis has teamed up with Sheraton Grand London Park Lane and Hatchards, the oldest bookseller in London, to curate an exclusive library of books to read before bedtime to help guests get a good night’s sleep.

How do you ensure you sleep well while travelling? Let us in on your travel tips in the comments.