8 Sleep Tips for Business Travelers
“The secret of my success is 8 hours’ sleep“ (Jeff Bezos)
A paradigm shift can currently be observed with regards to sleep. Gone are the days when business executives were competing over the lack of hours they were spending in bed. Thankfully, sleep is now increasingly being recognised as the key to our personal health & wellbeing – alongside healthy nutrition, movement and mindset.
Many leadership qualities such as solving complex problems, creativity, self-motivation and emotional robustness are highly dependent on our quality of sleep.And it’s for this very reason that many of today’s business leaders have adopted a systematic sleep routine, which is highly effective yet hard to sustain while traveling.
A recent study carried out by IHG concluded that around 80% of all business business travellers suffer from sleep disorders when travelling and that the average sleep duration decreases to 5.17 hours (approximately 58 minutes less than in your own bed). Different environmental conditions, unknown noises and late working were identified as the main causes of restless sleep while travelling.
With this in mind, the following 8 tips aim to help you get the most out of your sleep while travelling, in turn boosting your overall work performance and health:
1) Select flights carefully
Choose a flight that won’t alter your regular sleep patterns. Avoid red-eye or late night flights whenever possible.
2) Proactively counter jetlag
Travelling over several time zones confuses the sleep-wake rhythm of our body. Flights to the east, which shorten the day as we feel them, are even more critical than flights to the west. The best way to avoid sleep is to gradually adjust the body to the time zone of the destination prior to departure. When boarding, try to change your watch to the time of the destination country and adopt that rhythm as quickly as possible on landing – a walk in the sun or special light lamps can effectively support this adaptation process. But beware, spontaneous fatigue attacks at the destination often prevent this adjustment process more than they encourage it.
3) Eat light meals, drink plenty of fluids & avoid alcohol
Heavy meals occupy our metabolism unnecessarily while alcoholic beverages are supposed fatigue makers. Therefore, both can significantly impair our sleep quality. With this in mind, try to only eat small portions on short night flights (e.g. Europe – Middle East). Make sure you eat a meal before boarding so that the entire flight time can be used as sleep time. Drink plenty of water and abstain from alcoholic beverages. Additionally, while in the air and at your destination, try to be cautious about your menu choice at business meals. Where you can, try to bring your own healthy snacks and rely on ‘nap-food’ before bedtime such as nuts, bananas, cherries, eggs, green leafy vegetables and salmon.
4) Find a suitable hotel or room
It’s astonishing that many hotels are only now rediscovering what actually lies at the core of their proposition: to provide guests with perfect relaxation! That’s why you have to be selective when looking for a hotel or a room: choose a hotel with a dedicated sleeping programme and communicate your wishes clearly before you arrive regarding bed system (bed type, mattress, blankets, pillows), location (quiet, rather high, not facing the street and not near the lifts), light (complete darkness possible), temperature (between 16 and 19° C, depending on your personal preference). In the room, make sure to detect and switch off light sources (e.g. appliances in stand-by mode) and annoying noises.
5) Bring your own sleeping kit with you
Sleep is a state in which we are at our most vulnerable. Therefore, we often sleep poorly for at least the first 1-2 nights in a new environment. We must therefore help our subconscious to find familiarity. Bring your own familiar sleep kit:
- Your own sleepwear (comfortable, light, thermo regulating and anti-bacterial: all properties of the Dagsmejan sleepwear collections)
- Your own pillow + pillowcase
- A sleep mask to provide complete darkness
- Earplugs or noise-canceling headphones to suppress annoying or unfamiliar noises.
6) Relax before going to bed
Avoid using computers or smartphones in the last hour before bedtime. If you check your emails or social networks, your brain will continue to activate and you’ll risk taking your last thoughts with you to sleep. Also, the blue light caused by electronics can affect sleep.
Light exercise, a warm bath, relaxation exercises or special breathing techniques can help us fall asleep faster and sleep better.
7) Plan the next day
Write down your to-dos so you can put them aside for the night. Make sure to choose your clothes for the next day, create a task list, check the directions, plan your journey. If the schedule for tomorrow is clear, not only will you enjoy a less stressful day, but your brain will also be more relaxed at night.
8) Try SleepTech and avoid MedTech
Additionally there are also numerous sleep trackers that record our sleep rhythm and apps that can support our sleep. Sleep trackers help us try to understand our own sleep patterns while some of them can also show ways in which we can improve our quality of sleep. Sleep apps that emit sounds such as pouring rain, crashing waves, crackling fire or other ambient sounds can calm our minds so why not try them out?
However, the most important SleepTech remains our alarm clock, which can support a regular sleep rhythm, especially if you use the alarm clock in the evening for a “Call to Bed” and not only in the morning for a “Call-to-Action”.
Prescription sleeping pills should generally not be used, as they often confuse the natural sleep rhythm more than they support it and can lead to dependencies over a longer period of time.
Blog post courtesy of Andreas Lenzhofer – Co-founder and Chairman of DAGSMEJAN – the Swiss born, Swedish designed sleepwear brand that provides a revolutionary solution to your travel woes. Dagsmejan was founded by Andreas Lenzhofer and Catarina Dahlin after realising that we still spend one third of our lives in one of the least innovative and purpose-driven garments around. Together with sleep scientists, textile engineers and research and manufacturing partners from leading institutions and companies across Europe they are leading a functional revolution, aiming to improve the quality of sleep for men & women across the globe.