7 Tips to Improve Your Sleep While Business Traveling

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Don't let rest deprivation spell doom for your bottom line.

Biz Women, guided sleep program, an article for Bulletproof

For some, traveling has the power to throw off their sleep schedule, which is something you can’t afford to have happen when people expect you to be on your A-game. A recent Biz Women article detailed data from NexTravel showing that one in five business travelers say traveling for work negatively impacts their mental health, finances, productivity and relationships. The World Health Organization has classified burnout as an actual syndrome resulting from chronic, unmanaged work stress. That NexTravel survey also shows that the global cost of burnout is estimated as high as $323 billion, with an extra $125 billion to $190 billion in associated health care costs.

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Traveling for work is not just bad for your sleep, but it’s bad for the bottom line. The good news is there are ways to improve your rest while traveling for business that are easy to implement into your schedule before and during your trip. Here are 6 tips to avoid those sleep-deprived nights.

1. The two-day rule

When you are on a short turnaround and you expect to be away from home for less than two days, you probably should stick to your normal home routine and schedule. Overall, it takes your body about two days to adjust to a change in schedule. If your trip is less than two days, your body will not have time to adjust fully and you could make your situation worse by having to acclimate your system back to your home schedule.

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It may be simpler and easier for you to ask for accommodations in meeting times or appointments that better coincide with your normal schedule than to try and adjust yourself to the local times and schedules. Keeping your body in tune with its regular habits will help you rest better on short-duration trips.

2. Bring the right sleep necessities

While packing for your trip, make a list of everything you will need and cross off items once you've packed them. Making sure you pack your necessities also helps you to avoid the stress of having to run out to the store for an item you didn’t bring. That stress is sometimes what can lead to poor sleep, and this is an easy way to keep your mind at ease. If you have good sleep habits at home like using a night mask and/or white noise or wave-sound machine, make sure to pack those items too. Treat sleep on the road the same way you would at home.

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Another great item to pack while on the road is a natural sleep aid, such as melatonin or magnesium, which can be great ways to help your body and mind relax. Melatonin helps regulate your body’s sleep cycle and will help you doze off, while magnesium helps to synthesize proteins, helps muscles contract and relax when they should and maintains and regulates your blood sugar, all which will allow you catch some much needed shut-eye.

3. Create positive sleep routines and ditch the screens

Many busy executives make a habit of working on the laptop right up until the lights go out. Setting the laptop aside an hour before you sleep can help cure hotel insomnia. But don’t just set the computer aside and turn on the television. Blue light from TV screens has the same effect. Take a few minutes before bedtime to read a real book or magazine, write in your journal, take a relaxing bath an hour before going to sleep or just sit and look out the window at the world.

Meditation is another amazing exercise that can calm your body and mind. The Bulletproof team has a great guided sleep program that is a perfect resource for any beginner and great to implement while traveling. There are some effective moble meditation apps that work well in calming your mind, like Headspace and Calm. Although, as noted above, if you’re using these before bed, be aware that the blue light that can keep you up and don’t get caught up scrolling Instagram while loading them.

4. Sleep strategically

Making sure you get a full eight or more hours of sleep the day before traveling is crucial for starting off your journey the right way. If you find yourself full of energy and experiencing trouble falling asleep on your trip, don’t forget your melatonin or magnesium, both of which can be used to aid in sleep without the groggy side effects of a non-natural sleep pill.

5. Lay low on the caffeine

Coffee and caffeine beverages can be lifesavers for those midday slumps, but when you’re on your business trip, it’s a great idea to tone down the caffeine intake. Try limiting yourself to one or two cups a day, and avoid drinking caffeine later into the day. It’s best to end your intake around three in the afternoon to get that good night sleep.

6. Hit the gym

Exercise has great effects on your body, including improving your quality of sleep, which will come in handy during your time away. While on your trip, try finding the fitness area in your hotel or going out for a run. Trust me, you’ll feel it later when your head hits that pillow.

7. Understand your sleep chronotype

Time to bust a long-held myth: Waking up early does not make you a better business person or human. When you model your sleep patterns (even when traveling) to that of your body’s natural circadian rhythm, you’ll sleep better. In an article for Bulletproof, Dr. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and sleep expert, identified four sleep chronotypes to help inform the path to better sleep.

To get the most out of traveling on business, follow these sleep-aid suggestions and learn your sleep spirit animal. Make sure you’re taking care of your body and mind to optimize best times for maximum productivity and keys to effective sleep, because a good night’s sleep is the ultimate productivity hack.

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