There comes a time in life when we must find a way to sleep somewhere very… unusual. Whether it's the middle seat on a transcontinental flight, a lumpy hotel bed, or a constricting cubicle, sometimes we need to drift off in some pretty bizarre places. Greatist’s got all the tips for getting quality shut-eye absolutely anywhere.Photo by Ben Draper
Try a layover lie-down. Even if only for a few minutes (i.e. first class is already boarding), lying down can help trick the mind into understanding it's sleepy time. Once on the plane, get that nap on.
Breathe easy. High altitudes and allergies are a one-two punch when it comes to travel congestion. Fortunately, certain meds can alleviate both types of sinus pressure, and seriously improve sleep quality.
Don't dress to impress. Don't worry about looking fly when flying. An overnight flight (or bus ride, or train ride) is no time for sitting pretty. Dress for bed, since the idea is to actually go to bed, right?
Keep the routine. Hooray for circadian rhythms! Even when hittin' the road (Jack), stick to a standard bedtime routine. The cues will tell the body it's time to chill out. To show jet lag who’s boss, stay awake until a normal bedtime (i.e. 11 pm to midnight) and get up at a reasonable hour. And avoid wacky napping: If the usual routine doesn't involve lounging on the beach and taking a two-hour siesta, don't be surprised if it's harder to snooze at night.
Exercise as usual. Increasing or decreasing activity levels can throw off the body's usual energy levels. Same goes for the time of day when you work out. Try to stick to the normal schedule even when away from home.
Eat familiar foods. Avoid unusual foods (i.e. spicy or just plain unrecognizable) on vacation. Heartburn is the mildest of the potential gastrointestinal repercussions — we won't go into any further detail. Be especially wary of tap water in other countries. The bathroom floor can’t be too comfortable.
Don't overeat. A very full stomach plus a horizontal position is a recipe for acid reflux. Which, unsurprisingly, can prevent restful slumber.
Skip the booze. On vacation, an extra drink or two is a natural part of unwinding, but don't let an umbrella-clad beverage prevent good sleep. Alcohol can interrupt natural sleep patterns, so quit boozing several hours before bedtime.
Avoid unfamiliar drugs. Don’t try a new sleep aid (or any med for that matter) on day one of the trip of a lifetime. Unexpected side effects could definitely affect sleep for the entirety of that grand European tour.
At a Friend's House or a Hotel
Be a cuddly couch crasher. If it's a planned slumbie, BYOB. (That's bring your own blanket… and pajamas.) If you forget, ask your host for a blanket, appropriate sleep attire, a pillow, or anything else necessary to get snoozing (seriously). Being just a smidge uncomfortable can make sleep pretty hard to come by. The hosts will be grateful later — no one wants to deal with a cranky house guest in the morning.
Cool it. Research suggests 60 to 68 degrees is optimal for sleep, since it lowers the core body temperature and lulls us to slumber. No A/C? Crack a window to catch a breeze.
Tune out the noise. Strange sounds can seriously hamper our ability to sleep — even "soothing" white noise, if it's not the norm. Use earplugs or headphones to mimic your ideal sleep situation at home or away. Or check out some apps that offer background noise to induce sleep.
At the Office
Don't go toward the light. Why won't that jerk of a cube mate turn off his desk lamp? Make like a Boy Scout and be prepared with an eye mask to cut the brightness, even when those overhead fluorescents are attempting to disturb sleep.
Get cozy. If an intense deadline means sleep loss, head to the parking lot and the comfort of the backseat for a quick nap. Bring a grown-up security blanket (sweater/pillow/blanket) to tell the body it's naptime.
Try paradoxical relaxation. Like savasana in yoga, paradoxical relaxation focuses on relaxing one body part at a time and could help the body slow down and relax — especially when trying to sneak in a quick nap between other tasks.