How to sleep anywhere

How to sleep anywhere


How to sleep anywhere

Whether you're on a plane, in a hotel or in the great outdoors, we teach you how to sleep well away from your bed.

It can be difficult to sleep well when you're not in your own bed, and having a few restless nights can put a real damper on a trip. We got tips from some expert Canadian travellers to help you sleep soundly when you're away from home.

On a plane
Dress for rest: "Wear comfortable, nonconstraining clothes," says Toronto's Dian Emery, frequent flyer and managing editor of Some must-have items: a sweater or warm pashmina and an eye mask.

Think accessories: A scarf, a shawl or a sweater keeps you warm and can be used as a blanket or a pillow. Arienne Parzei, Toronto-based travel writer, videographer and photographer behind the blog, advises sticking a shawl between your lower back and the seat for support.

Tune out: Parzei trusts in earplugs when she travels. "As a light sleeper," she says, "any noise I'm unfamiliar with can easily wake me." Or download a podcast or a soothing playlist before you board, and listen using good-quality noise-blocking headphones. Says Emery: "Anything that gets you focused on something other than the fact that you're sharing very cramped sleeping quarters with a few hundred passengers is a good thing."

At a hotel
Make it familiar: "Nothing makes sleeping in a new bed easier than having your own pillow," says Parzei. If that's  not possible, Dr. W. Jerome Alonso, medical director of Calgary's Canadian Sleep Consultants, suggests training your brain to associate your hotel room with sleep. "If you can't fall asleep after 20 to 30 minutes," says Dr. Alonso, "get out of bed and wait till you're sleepy again so you can constantly associate sleepiness with your new environment."

Stick to routine: Do you read before sleep at home? Do it when you're away, too, says Parzei. Keeping to your usual bedtime rituals should help cue your body to doze off.

For jet lag
Brighten up: Get plenty of natural light at the start of the trip, says Emery, to teach your body when to stay awake. If you arrive at night, try to get some sleep to adjust your body to the new time zone.

Drink it in: Dehydration intensifies jet-lag symptoms. Parzei swears by drinking lots of water to combat this effect.

Plan on it: Shift your bedtime toward your new schedule before your trip. It's useful to create a compromise between your new time zone and your schedule at home, says Dr. Alonso. Your internal clock can only change to an earlier time of up to 15 to 30 minutes per day, or a later time of up to 30 minutes per day, and that's with the help of interventions such as melatonin and light therapy, explains Dr. Alonso, so give your body plenty of time to prep for a new time zone.

When camping
Boost your blow-up: Put sheets on your air mattress to make it more comfortable—even if you're laying a sleeping bag on top, advises Jen Whalen, a Banff, B.C., seasoned camper and co-owner of And keep duct tape on hand for any air leaks. "There's nothing worse than the dreaded 3 a.m. sink to the centre," she says.

Seek natural comfort: Seek a level, nonrocky spot for your sleep pad. Alannah Gamblin-Jensen, Whalen's partner, often adds a couple of soft evergreen tree boughs under her sleep pad to elevate her off the hard ground.

Put a lid on it: Wear your tuque to bed to keep your ears warm and block out sound, says Gamblin-Jensen, "because nothing is worse than hearing mosquitoes buzzing around your head." 

Do you need sleeping aids? Check out how to safely take over-the-counter and prescription sleepins aids.

This story was originally part of "How To Sleep Anywhere" in the November 2015 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!


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How to sleep anywhere