A lot has been written about beating insomnia on the road, but many travellers deal with disrupted sleep routines long before they take to the skies. Heavy workloads, long hours in the office, and the competing mental demands of corporate and home lives can all take their toll, which is nothing to be brushed off, as the benefits of sleep on mental performance have been well-documented over the years.
If you always seem to wake up tired, one of the most important things you can do to upgrade your bedtime is to power down all screens in the evening. Because many of us who work in business spend long days in offices away from natural light, and then spend hours in the evening watching TV, or staring at a cell phone screen, we end up sleepy during the day and awake at night. The bright, artificial light of screens suppresses your body’s production of melatonin, which you need to drift off to sleep. Make a habit of putting down your tablet and phone a couple of hours before bed and you’ll see a real difference in the quality of your sleep.
Another proven strategy for deep, restorative sleep is to keep to as regular a sleep schedule as possible. Many people believe they can “catch up” on a sleep debt at the weekend, but research has shown that this can make us more, not less, tired come monday morning. Try to set a regular bedtime and wake up at the same time each day. If you need extra sleep, experts have found that it’s better to opt for short naps than to sleep in in the morning. Consistency is important – you’re trying to get in-sync with your body’s circadian rhythm (it’s natural sleep-wake cycle).
And finally, it may seem like common sense, but it pays to limit your caffeine and sugar intake, especially in the evening. Even things like green tea have sleep-disrupting caffeine, and less obvious snacks like sugary fruit and juices can have a negative effect. You may find that alcohol helps to make you sleepy, but in the long run, it makes it harder for your body to fall into a deep sleep. Same thing goes for big meals late at night and smoking, as nicotine is also a stimulant.