Good Sleep in Bad Places

A large segment of the population suffers from sub-standard sleep. Because of our modern lifestyles – including diet, exercise and work habits – our sleep suffers. The popularity and sheer amount of travel in our lives also works against our sleep patterns and cycles. Airports, airplanes and hotels can all contribute to poor sleep. Here are a few tips for getting some good sleep in the difficult situations traveling can throw at you:


1. Fly first class

If you can afford it, the seats are simply far more comfortable. Life is unfair.

2. Dress comfortably

Unless you are an international celebrity who needs to look good for paparazzi when emerging from the airport, you have nobody to impress. Dress comfortably – think elastics – and getting some sleep will be easier. If you have a work meeting to catch straight from the plane, carry your suit with you.

3. Bring a pillow

A window seat and a comfortable pillow are sometimes all you need for an onboard nap. Forget the awkward travel pillows and bring a normal pillow from home.

4. Eat smart

Try to avoid spicy foods and strong alcohol if you want to get a bit of sleep on the plane. Acid reflux and upset stomach are both sleep disruptors.

5. Pop a pill

Half of an over-the-counter sleeping pill can usually put you to sleep without leaving you zombie-like after a flight. Be careful to fit the amount you take to the length of the flight. Alternatively, natural options include melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. In the US you can buy melatonin pills over the counter.


1. Turn on a fan

Generally, the human body is designed to cool off while sleeping. If the room temperature is a hindrance to sleep, crack a window and turn the temperature down.

2. Complain

If a particular room is too noisy or uncomfortable, ask politely to be moved to a better one.

3. Don’t fight

If, after 30 minutes of trying to sleep, you still cannot, don’t fight the insomnia. You’ll be better off getting out of bed, reading a book, or watching TV. Try again after a break.

In Public

Many times, because of the difficulty in making perfectly-timed travel plans, we need to sleep in airports, train stations or the like.

1. Be safe

While the darkest, most remote spot in the terminal might be the best for sleep, it can also be dangerous. You’ll be better off staying near staffed, well-lit areas. Lock up your belongings in a locker.

2. Dress for the occasion

Have extra layers of clothing available. You’ll be able to dress warmly if your makeshift bedroom is cold, as well as use extra clothes as pillows if need be.

3. Inquire

Airports sometimes keep cots on hand for stranded passengers. Alternatively, there might be a VIP lounge in the airport that offers beds. If you pay, you might just be given access.