Exploring faraway places is exciting, but there’s no denying that travel can be brutal on our sleep. More often than not, we find ourselves sleeping in uncomfortable positions (i.e., upright on a plane), fighting the effects of jet lag and trying to drown out the sound of crying babies and other distracting sounds.
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That’s where a sleep travel kit can come in handy. Whether you’re traveling for business or for pleasure, packing the right items can mean the difference between waking up feeling refreshed and feeling like a zombie the entire trip. Scroll on for a list of must-have essentials that will help you maximize your sleep and make your travels much more enjoyable.
Many people find that they sleep better when they have a blanket or a sheet covering their body. But even if the airline is willing to provide you with a blanket, chances are, it will be a flimsy one that barely covers the upper half of your body. If you’re going on a long trip or flying a red-eye, consider packing a cozy blanket that promotes rest and relaxation. For maximum stress relief and sleep benefits, try a weighted blanket (yes, you can bring one on a plane). These therapeutic blankets use soothing pressure to help the user sink into a state of relaxation, making them ideal for nervous fliers and people who struggle to get good sleep during their travels.
- Travel Pillow
You’ve probably seen people walking around the airport with travel pillows around their necks. While these popular travel accessories may look a bit silly, wearing one sure beats the alternative (that is, waking up with a stiff neck and feeling like you got maybe 15 minutes of sleep). Travel pillows usually come in a U-shaped design to help keep your spine in alignment and reduce potential discomfort. If you’re thinking about using a travel pillow, make sure you buy a nice one made with memory foam — not the overpriced travel pillows made from cheap materials. Your head and neck will thank you for it.
As much as we all love cute babies, screaming children on a red-eye flight can make it pretty difficult to catch some good Zzzs. The solution? A decent pair of earplugs to help drown out the wailing, coughing and general chatter throughout the airplane cabin. Just pop them in your ears and say, “night, night” to the rest of the world. Plus, you can use them at your final destination. Earplugs are great for blocking out annoying noises in your hotel room, such as traffic coming from the street or the sound of someone’s television blaring in the room next to yours.
- Eye Mask
Creating a pitch black sleeping environment is an essential part of good sleep hygiene — but between overhead cabin lighting, electronic devices and street lights from your hotel, total darkness can be a difficult thing to achieve when you’re traveling. Fortunately, there’s a simple fix: weighted eye masks. Wearing an eye mask, especially a weighted one, can help usher in a good night’s rest by making your surroundings pitch black and providing soothing pressure to your face. Plus, they’re pretty great for helping you overcome the frustrating effects of jet lag, especially when you’re traveling from west to east.
- Reusable Water Bottle
Staying hydrated is critical for getting good sleep when you travel. According to experts from the Sleep Foundation, being dehydrated can lead to many unpleasant symptoms — dry mouth, muscle cramps and headaches — that make it harder to get a good night’s rest. Being dehydrated can also make you feel tired and sluggish during the day, which means you’re more likely to nap and throw off your sleep schedule. The solution? A reusable water bottle that you’ll want to take with you everywhere you go. You can even splurge on a smart water bottle that reminds you to take frequent sips!
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Melatonin isn’t an ideal sleep cure, but it can be helpful if you’re crossing multiple time zones. In a 2014 review, scientists looked at eight randomized clinical trials regarding the use of melatonin for jet lag and other scenarios. They found that six out of the eight trials were favorable to using melatonin as a way to counter the effects of jetlag.
In case you need a quick refresher, melatonin is the hormone that plays a role in your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. High levels of melatonin tell your body that it’s time to sleep, whereas low levels of melatonin tell your body that it’s time to wake up.
Before you take melatonin for jet lag, be sure to talk with your doctor first!
- Lavender Pillow Spray
Aromatherapy is no joke. In fact, research has shown that certain scents — lavender, peppermint, etc. — can have a calming effect on the mind and improve overall sleep quality. So, if you have a hard time sleeping on vacation, consider packing a lavender pillow spray for your next trip. All you do is spritz a little on your pillow before bed and voila! Sweet dreams will soon be yours.
- Eye Cream
When all else fails, remember to pack a high-quality eye cream with brightening and de-puffing ingredients, like niacinamide and hyaluronic acid. Sure, it may not be as effective as actually drifting off into dreamland, but at least you’ll look like you’ve gotten a great night’s rest. Plus, the simple act of applying your favorite eye cream can be calming, especially if you make it part of your regular bedtime routine. Eventually, your brain will make the connection that applying eye cream means that it’s time to relax and go to bed.
Source: Diego Cervo/Shutterstock.com You don’t need to let travel get in the way of a good night’s sleep. With the right self-care items, you can fend off jet lag and get the high-quality snooze you need on your next vacation.