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Travel Hacks: How to sleep better while you’re travelling

Travel Hacks: How to sleep better while you’re travelling

Today’s post with my travel hacks to help you sleep better while travelling in sponsored by Tempur.

I’m one of those people who generally feels like they can do pretty much anything …provided I’ve had a good night’s sleep.

When I’ve slept well I’m up for climbing mountains, skydiving from planes, scuba diving around shipwrecks or going out and getting lost without a map or a plan or a care in the world.

If I’ve had a good night’s kip I can deal with toddler tantrums, airport stress, delayed flights, language barriers and those travel days where everything goes wrong.

But if I haven’t slept well. Oh dear. Oh no. I cannot deal with anything! 

There are some people who can function on just 5-6 hours of sleep a night. I am not one of these people. I need a good 8 hours just to function and it’s for this reason I really prioritise sleeping well while I travel. 

Whether I’m travelling with family, friends, fellow travel bloggers or solo, I always make sure I sleep well because if I’m tired it just ruins my trip. So today I’m sharing some of my top travel hacks to help you sleep well while you travel. 

These top tips will help you combat the ‘first night effect’. That’s a real thing, honest, and it’s when you don’t sleep well for the first night in a new place. The first night effect is thought to be a survival instinct to ensure there aren’t any dangers in our environment. It’s our brain’s clever way of protecting us by keeping us slightly alert so we can jump up and protect ourselves if there is any danger. 

Very clever when you’re staying somewhere dangerous. Not so clever when you’re staying in a luxurious 5* hotel and the only real danger is missing the breakfast buffet in the morning!

Here are my tips to avoid the first night effect and sleep well while you’re travelling.

Sleep well during the journey

Take your own pillow

This is the best tip for anyone who doesn’t sleep well for the first night in a new bed. Take your own pillow to give yourself a little more familiarity and home comfort.

And let’s not forget that travelling with a pillow will ensure you’re more comfortable during the journey too! I’ve recently been sent the TEMPUR Comfort Travel Pillow and it is a dream! It’s a mini pillow so it’s great for travelling and I actually find it much more comfortable than the U-shaped neck pillows that are specially designed for travel. I just can’t get comfortable with those ones! The TEMPUR pillow has visco-elastic cells that actively mould and adapt to your body – that’s a fancy way of saying it’s firm but mouldable so once you’ve snuggled into the perfect position it’ll keep you there! We already have a TEMPUR mattress at home so it’s nice having a little pillow that feels similar to take with me. As I’m currently 8 months pregnant I actually take it everywhere at the moment and I’m finding it great for long car journeys.

Plan your travel sleep and schedule strategic naps 

OK, I know it’s not always as simple as ‘scheduling a nap’ as though you can force yourself to sleep at exactly 3pm for precisely 49 minutes, but there is a lot you can do to ensure you’re tired enough to sleep at the right time or to stay awake during the day time.

Ideally, you want to arrive and immediately adjust to the local time. This might mean getting an afternoon nap so you can stay away until 10pm that evening, or forcing yourself to stay awake during your flight so you’ll be able to sleep when you arrive (even if it’s only 7pm at home).

If you want to sleep better while you’re travelling, adjust your watch to the local time in your arrival destination before you even board your flight and this will help you adjust as quickly as possible. You’ll usually find that most flights will serve food and snacks based on the time of the destination so go with it and try to wake up and force down the breakfast meal they’re serving at 3am!

Travel Hack Tip: Did you know that we don’t actually conserve much more energy when we’re asleep than when we’re resting? So if you’re struggling to fall asleep, don’t worry about it! Just sit back and relax and aim to ‘rest’ rather than sleep because you’ll still be conserving a lot of energy and restoring your energy supplies. You’ll often find that as soon as you stop putting pressure on yourself to sleep, you’ll nod off naturally!

If you have the opposite problem and you can’t stay awake then drink some coffee, wash your face, brush your teeth and make sure you have a good series downloaded from Netflix to keep your adrenaline levels high during a boring flight!

^I’m not going to lie, sleeping in Business Class is much easier than economy!

Put your PJs on for the flight

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, there is no shame in wearing your PJs on a plane!

You might want to avoid your cutesy pyjamas with sheep or clouds on them but something as lose, comfortable and soft as PJs are perfect.

Look for some super stylish, luxury loungewear or casual activewear can often be a more affordable option.

Create your own ‘sleepy toiletry kit’

This little kit can be used on the plane and also when you arrive to help you sleep. You can buy a kit from many luxury beauty brands, and if you’re lucky enough to be turning left on the plane you often get a nice kit waiting for you on your First Class seat, but I personally prefer to create my own using my favourite products.

I’ll have lots of my normal facial products like DHC Cleansing Oil and Aldi moisturiser (the best!) as well as some products specifically designed to make you sleep. The ‘Sleepy’ body lotion from Lush is dreamy and I love any kind of balm you rub into your temples. 

To be honest, I don’t really think the product or the scent make any difference, it’s more the relaxing ritual of applying products. I include a good eye mask as well as cosy socks and many people will also like to include ear plugs. Personally, I don’t like earplugs but I have noise cancelling headphones that block out noise and help me sleep.

^Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream is my Duty Free treat whenever I have enough cash left at the end of a trip!

Sleep well when you arrive

Check out your room immediately and ask to move if you can see anything that might hinder your sleep!

Once you arrive at your accommodation I highly recommend lying on the bed and seeing if there’s anything that will hinder your sleep! Does the air conditioning work? Can you hear a lot of noise? Are you on a busy corridor? Is there an ice machine churning outside your door?

If you think there’s something that will keep you awake at night then ask to move rooms immediately. It’s much easier to switch rooms before you’ve unpacked and made a mess and you’ll be kicking yourself for not moving when it’s 2am and you’re wide awake in bed listening to the elevator ping outside your room!

The Abbey Hotel Bath Review

Does it really matter when you get your 8 hours?

A top travel hack is to ask yourself if it actually matters when you get your 8 hours sleep? During some trips it doesn’t actually matter if you’re jet lagged so you can save yourself the hassle of trying to adjust.

If you’re travelling to New York for a long weekend for example, you might want to stay on UK time. The UK is 5 hours ahead of New York so whenever I visit I like to stay on UK time. It means I can treat myself to a long lie-in, but still wake up super early! You’ll be the first person to enjoy the hotel breakfast, the first to arrive at all the busy attractions, the first to have lunch at that new restaurant and the first to have evening cocktails. It does mean you won’t see much of New York City’s nightlife though so there’s always a compromise.

^ Get up early for an early morning dip in the pool

Cool your room to 16°C

Did you know the best room temperature for a good night’s sleep is 16-18°C? Most people sleep best in a cool room and many of us like the comfort of a cosy blanket too – something that definitely isn’t quite as appealing when it’s 25°C! So to sleep better while you’re travelling be sure to knock the aircon temperature down for a good night’s sleep!

Have a notepad handy to ‘brain dump’

If you’re the kind of person who gets into bed and suddenly remembers every single thing you need to do, every silly thing you’ve ever said, all the things you need to get through tomorrow and then 75 ‘brilliant business ideas’ pop into your head too then you need a bedside notepad! I find that travelling is a really good time to get creative so I often have lots of my best ideas while I’m on holiday so I like to keep a notepad handy for when those ideas strike late at night!

Splash out and have ‘real beds’ for all the family

If you’re travelling with the kids then it’s often tempting to cut costs and all share a room together. Most hotels allow a family of four to squish into one room and will give you camp beds or sofa beds for the kids. We’ve done this 4-5 times and have finally declared we will never do it again! No one sleeps particularly well and after 6 nights of broken sleep we all go home feeling very grumpy and excited about the thought of sleeping in our own bedrooms!

Phokaia Beach Resort review Mark Warner

^ We’ve vowed to never share a standard room on family holidays again!

Portable black out blinds are THE BEST to sleep better while you’re travelling!

Discovering the portable black out blind from The Gro Company was an absolute game changer for my family! It’s a black out blind you can attach to any sized window with suction cups and instantly blacks out the space. It is designed for children but it’s great for adults if you like to sleep in absolute darkness.

De-stress before bed and have a bedtime routine

This is probably the most important tip for getting a good night’s sleep while you’re travelling. Put in place some kind of routine that helps you de-stress before you go to bed. Bedtime routines aren’t just for babies! 

Everyone has a different de-stress routine and it should be something you do at home as well as while you’re travelling.

For me, I like a long hot shower and a cup of tea in bed and after that I can barely keep my eyes open. Sam likes to have a beer and watch TV and I know my mum likes to read her book in bed for half an hour. I know people who like to write in their journal before bed and others who can’t sleep without a mini yoga session. My best friend can’t sleep until she’s gone through an extensive skincare routine and my little boy likes to sing Baa Baa Black Sheep and then say goodnight to all of his toys! Whatever your ‘de-stress night time routine’ is, make sure you do it as often as possible and you’ll find it much easier to sleep.

^Got to have a cuppa before bed

Get some proper exercise during the day

There are so many studies proving exercise helps us sleep, so make sure you get some ‘proper exercise’ during the day. And I want to highlight the ‘proper exercise’ bit because a gentle stroll along the beach or a 10 minute dip in the pool isn’t proper exercise! You want to get your heart rate up and sweat for at least 30 minutes to really feel the benefits.

No screentime after 9pm (especially in the dark!)

And finally, if you want to sleep well while you’re travelling, switch off your screens after 9pm. Yes that’s right, don’t look at your phone, tablet, laptop or TV! This includes during the flight too.

But if you really can’t resist a quick check of your phone before bed or you want to watch TV before bed, make sure you’re looking at the screen with the lights ON. A recent study published in Environment International found that looking at a screen before bed hinders sleep, but it has a massive impact on your sleep if you’re looking at a bright screen in a dark room. This is also why so many people struggle to sleep on a plane because we often watch movies while sat in the dark!

If you’re on holiday it is a nice habit to get into to put your phones away before dinner and keep them away until the following morning. 

Travel Hack Tip: If you’re the kind of person who wakes up in the night and likes to check what time it is, then consider travelling with a watch or a small clock you can place by your bed. 

This is something I do when I’m jet lagged, especially if I’m somewhere unfamiliar and have black out blinds. I wake up from a deep sleep and genuinely don’t know if I’m been asleep for one hour or 10 hours! So I check my phone to see the time and spot an email or a Whatsapp message and – boom – I’m wide awake and it turns out I’ve actually only been asleep for 30 minutes!

Those were my top tips to sleep better while you’re travelling. If you have any more tips then please do share them in the comments below! 

Mykonos Villas

Tuesday 21st of December 2021

When I can't sleep I always taking 5 deep breaths from the nose. This helps to get the necessary oxygen to the brain and most of the time gives me a good sleep.

Bryson Fico

Monday 26th of April 2021

Exercise always helps us sleep soundly. Cooling the hotel room and bringing your own pillow on driving vacations are helpful tips.


Friday 30th of October 2020

I always carry holy basil tea (tulsi) with me whenever I travel. I find that it helps with my jetlag and to get a better sleep.


Monday 4th of May 2020

I've always had a more difficult time sleeping after I return home from traveling. We find that drinking lots of water, especially in flight helps you feel better and sleep better when we arrive at our destination. We also, never travel without our comfy luxury mini down pillows! :)

A Long Night Ahead: Five Ways To Stay Awake And Alert Behind The Wheel | My Beautiful Adventures

Tuesday 14th of January 2020

[…] or sleeping in the day before you drive will put you at an advantage. It’s not always easy to sleep when you’re travelling, so if you are struggling for whatever reason, opt to rest as much as possible and avoid anything […]