How to get a good night’s sleep when travelling
By Dr Matthew Walker
October 1, 2022
Take a nap during the first few hours
When travelling it is best to sleep in the first half of a long-haul flight, not the second half. Then stay awake for the rest of the day and evening in the new time zone. This ensures you build up plenty of healthy ‘sleep pressure’ for a good first night’s sleep.
Don’t drink and dream on these
It is also best to avoid alcohol and caffeine on flights. Both disrupt your body clock and make it harder to reset your internal rhythms when you arrive in the new location.
Here comes the sun
Once you are at your destination, get at least 30-45 minutes of daylight in the morning once in the new time zone, and do not wear sunglasses. The natural daylight helps suppress morning melatonin, making you feel more alert.
Forget about throwing shade…
However, if you have travelled east, wear shades to block afternoon daylight when outside. You want to start encouraging the rise of melatonin later in the afternoon by mimicking dusk.
Unless you have travelled west
Yet, if you have headed west, don’t wear sunglasses outside, as getting late afternoon daylight will delay the rise of melatonin helping you to stay awake for longer.
Eat when the time is right
It is best to eat meals at the time that is standard in the new time zone, rather than eating when you feel like it. Food acts as a strong signal for resetting your body clock and can lead to a lack of sleep.
Head to the spa and unwind
Mandarin Oriental has a great selection of relaxing spa packages to enable you to unwind into a dreamlike state before bedtime. And if you’re staying at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London, be sure to discover the team's Digital Wellness programme to help you disconnect from and drift off.
Turn down the lights
Evening darkness is also critical when it comes to getting a good night’s rest. Dim the lights in your room in the last hour before bed and avoid your digital devices during this time. Both things will help encourage the release of natural melatonin and thus sleepiness.
The perfect breeze
Finally, keep the temperature in your bedroom cool at night – a little above 17°C is optimal for most people. Your body temperature needs to drop at night to initiate and maintain good sleep. Having a cool room helps with this, making sleep easier to come by.