I often have a hard time sleeping. And I am one of those people who becomes very grumpy when sleep deprived. In order to sleep well, I need complete silence, complete darkness, and a comfortable place to lie down. As such, I’ve made some investments in my apartment that have made my bedroom a haven for difficult sleepers. I have a down featherbed, padded mattress pad, super soft sheets, 100% down pillows, blackout curtains and a white noise machine. Sometimes it’s almost too comfortable to get up. But there are times when I can’t sleep in my specially designed sleeping cocoon – when I am on vacation, when I need to sleep in transit, or if I stay over at a friend’s home. Luckily, a year living on a noisy avenue, and in an apartment where hoards of pigeons congregated outside my window have forced me to develop some handy coping strategies so I am not biting all my friends heads off when I visit them, or ruining a trip by being irritable. Here are the tools you need for sleeping anywhere, even when the conditions are not ideal.
Figure out your sleep soundtrack
If you prefer silence or white noise, buy some travel ear plugs. I think the best ones for blocking sound, and the most comfortable for sleeping are the mushy foam kind that you can roll down to fit into your ears.
If you need music or television, download some soothing songs and make a sleeping playlist, then get some sound cancelling headphones for when you’re catching zzz’s on a plane.
Pick a side
Everyone has a side that they sleep more comfortably on- mine is the left. So, when I am booking a trip that I know I’ll want to sleep on the way, I make sure to snag a left hand window so I can lean against it and snooze (or a right hand seat if I know my travel companion will lend me their shoulder). If you’re a stomach sleeper, pulling out the tray table in front of you and putting a pillow down is a pretty good substitute.
Determine your ideal sleep conditions
Then get the things you need to closely mirror them when you’re not at home. I like to be laying down on soft things in darkness. So, when I travel, I bring an eye mask in case the room I am sleeping in is bright, and a mini cushion to wedge against any hard surfaces I might want to lean against to get as close to laying down as I can. Sometimes it’s a mini pillow, sometimes it’s just a big sweater I can take off and ball up into a pillow. If you can’t sleep when your toes are cold, pack a pair of warm socks for the train. People might look at you like you’re a diva, but do you really care if it means you’re well-rested at the end of your trip?