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How to improve sleep when traveling for business

By taking these suggestions to heart, you will eventually perfect a system that helps you sleep as well on the road as you do at home.

The life of a business traveler is not an easy one. That is especially true for the business traveler who spends upwards of 30% of their time "on the road." While this kind of lifestyle offers many challenges, it's the way frequent business traveling affects the businessperson's sleep that seems to matter the most.

If you live this kind of lifestyle, you are probably well aware of the potential negative effects regular business travel can have on the quality of sleep you get. To avoid this, there are certain things you can do that might help offset the potential effects of travel on your sleep. With that in mind, here are some of the things you should consider doing.

Take advantage of having advanced notice
If you are a regular business traveler, it's very likely that your trips are planned out in advance. That is something you can use to your advantage.

The first thing you always want to focus on is making sure you get plenty of good sleep during the nights you are at home. The best way to ensure that happens is to eat right, get plenty of exercise, and make sure you have created a sleeping environment that is conducive to sleeping. Part of that is making sure you have a good mattress that is comfortable and gives your body plenty of support in all of the right places.

Beyond getting sleep at home, you can use the advance notice to start regulating your sleep before you reach your travel destination. As a word of caution, it's not really worth the effort to try to regulate your sleep if your trips are confined to a day or two (see the next section). It's when you are going to be on the road for more than a few days that you could benefit by adjusting your sleep times to coincide with the target time zone. You can do that by going to bed earlier or later based on where your travels will take you.

Sleeping on short trips
Since you don't want to be manipulating your body clock for short trips, there is an alternative way you can deal with significant time zone changes that could affect your sleep. One way is to schedule your business meetings based on the time you would normally hold meetings in your home time zone. Another measure you might take is to find time for a short nap if you are looking at the possibility of extending your day past your normal bedtime.

Recognize the effects of sunlight on your sleep
As humans, we generally sleep at night and awake with the rising of the sun. Unless you work the second or third shift, this would likely coincide with your sleep pattern.

Since your body clock patterns itself based on the position of the sun at various times during the day, you might have to trick your body clock. The best option you have for doing this is to restrict your exposure to sunlight to coincide with the times you would normally be exposed to sunlight at home.

Create a travel exercise program
Getting plenty of exercise always plays a role in helping you maintain good sleep habits. Since your body doesn't know where it is, it still has an expectation that you will be exercising.

The fact is exercise is a great way to relieve stress. After a full day of business meetings, a good run or swim in the pool is the perfect way to promote sleep. In the process, you will be doing the exercise that's necessary to make you sufficiently tired enough to go to sleep. Being away from home is not a valid reason to forget your exercise program.

Focus on nutrition that promotes sleep
When traveling for business, it's easy to fall into the habit of over-relying on restaurant food. That's fine if you can find a restaurant that serves food that promotes sleep. If you can't find such a restaurant, getting a room with a kitchenette might offer you a chance to cook the foods you need.

The foods that promote good sleep contain nutrients like melatonin and tryptophan. These are nutrients that affect the serotonin neurotransmitters in your brain. Serotonin is what causes you to feel sleepy. The foods you should be targeting include turkey, nuts (almonds and walnuts), oily fish, fruits (cherries, kiwi, raspberries), dairy products like milk and eggs, and grains like wheat and oats. The things to avoid are foods with high sugar content or caffeine. Also, alcohol is not a friend to a good night's sleep.

By taking these suggestions to heart, you will eventually perfect a system that helps you sleep as well on the road as you do at home.

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash