The holiday season can be tough on our sleeping routine. Too many parties, too many things to do—who can sleep? Pile on top of that the stress of traveling, and you’ve got a perfect recipe for insomnia, fatigue and other sleep issues.
“Even under the best circumstances, sleeping away from home can impact both the quantity and quality of the sleep we get,” said Lauri Leadley, owner of Valley Sleep Center, a sleep disorder-testing facility based in Phoenix.
Driving while sleep-impaired can be particularly dangerous: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 100,000 accidents yearly are caused by tired drivers, and the greatest number of drowsy-driving accidents occur late at night when the body reaches the peak of “circadian sleepiness.”
To help you sleep more soundly and travel more safely this holiday season, try these tips:
- Get a good night’s sleep the night before you travel.
- If you’re flying, plan for any time zone changes, and allow time for some rest once you arrive to help further counter jet lag.
- If you can, sleep on the plane. Bring sleep helpers such as a plane pillow, headphones or a sleep mask to try to snooze on the plane.
- Before getting behind the wheel, assess your level of alertness. Never drive sleepy.
- If you’re driving, take breaks frequently to stretch your legs and clear your mind.
- Bring whatever sleep necessities you need with you. If you use a white noise machine, a special buckwheat hull neck pillow or a sleep mask, make sure it makes it into your luggage.
“Re-creating the conditions you sleep best in will help you stick to your normal sleep routine no matter whose bed you are sleeping in,” Leadley said.