Suffering from jetlag and can't get to sleep? Here's how to outfox light pollution and sleep soundly.
Everyone loves a little bright lights, big city when they travel - don't they? Most of the time, yes -except when those lights are a little TOO bright. Like when the hotel parking lot lights are streaming in. Or when the lone light in an otherwise black world is just outside your window. Or when you literally have no idea what time your body thinks it is and you've just done a sleepless overnight flight half way around the world and you JUST. NEED. SLEEP.
Much like with sound, we all have a certain level of light tolerance we are accustom to in our home environment. But when we travel our tolerance can change. Light interference in an unfamiliar environment can wreck havoc on sleep patterns, requiring some crafty solutions to maximize your rest - and your trip.
Choose the Right Environment
Brightly lit parking lots are a pro for travel safety - but they can be a real pain when you are trying to sleep. When you book your hotel room in advance, be sure to ask for a room away from illuminated views and bright attractions. The glaring lights of the Vegas Strip are entertaining but best avoided when you're desperate for rest! (And not all blackout shades are in good shape.)
If you have a say in your hostel bunk selection, choose a bunk behind the door, not in front of it. You don't want the bed that would be in the line of light when the door opens at midnight! Lower bunks are naturally more shaded and you can enhance the darkness by hanging sarongs or towels off the top bunk.
Create Your Own Dark Room
If the room isn't dark enough, take matters into your own hands. Ask the front desk for some extra towels, blankets, or sheets. They can be draped over a curtain rod to provide an extra layer of darkness, rolled up and placed against the door to prevent light from seeping underneath, or tossed over blinking electronic lights. Skirt hangers, clothes pins, and large paperclips can all be used to keep curtains tightly shut.
Choose the Right Sleep Mask
For the darkest, deepest sleep, use a light blocking eye shade. Here are 3 different kinds you might encounter.
1.) Basic eye shades: Often compliments of an airline overnight kit, these basic eye shades are easy to pack, comfortable even if you toss and turn and FREE! But the universal shape offers the worst fit and lets through the most light. Good in a pinch, but you'd be better off investing just a few dollars in either of the following:
3.) Molded eye cup shade: Molded eye shades protect against light just like the premium shades and they allow plenty of eye movement and blinking so your REM sleep won't be interrupted. But you do look kinda funny when you wear them, like a giant bug, as seen in our top photo! Expect to pay $4-$10. (Here's our fav, made by Mack's).
Flying to exotic destinations and sleeping in beautiful hotels are some of the most exciting things about travel - but nothing ruins a trip quite like sleep deprivation and jet lag. Controlling light pollution is an easy thing you can do to make yourself more comfortable and make your trip more restful and relaxing.
It's your turn - where did you have your best travel sleep?
Looking to sleep more soundly when you travel? These article will help.
Sound off on Snoring: Sleep Tips for Tired Travelers
The Good, The Great, and The Gross: How to Evaluate Hotels
How to Always Get a Great Hotel Deal
At my request, Mack's provided me with sleep supplies to test at no charge. All opinions remain my own.
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