The best ways to get a good night’s sleep when travelling
Crystal butterflies suspended from ceiling

How to sleep well when travelling

Jet lag is always an unwelcome travel companion. But after more than 20 years’ research, neuroscientist Dr Matthew Walker thinks he might just have the answer. If it’s 3am or you’re about to embark on your next break and are worried you won’t be able to get to sleep, these nine tips can help

Man sleeping on an airplane

Take a nap during the first few hours

When travelling it's best to sleep in the first half of a long-haul flight (pictured above), 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.

Flight attendant serving tea

Don’t drink and dream

It's also best to avoid alcohol and caffeine on flights (pictured above). Both disrupt your body clock and make it harder to reset your internal rhythms when you arrive in the new location.

Woman relaxing in a swimming pool

See 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 (pictured above), and don't wear sunglasses. The natural daylight helps suppress morning melatonin, making you feel more alert.

People playing on a skateboard

Find a shady spot

If you have travelled east, wear shades to block afternoon daylight when outside (pictured above). You want to start encouraging the rise of melatonin later in the afternoon by mimicking dusk.

Woman paddling on a board

Stay awake

Yet, if you have headed west, don’t wear sunglasses outside, as getting late afternoon daylight (pictured above) will delay the rise of melatonin helping you to stay awake for longer. 

A platter of food being served

Eat when the time is right

It's 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 (pictured above).

The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Milan

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 (pictured above). And if you’re staying at Mandarin Oriental, Milan, be sure to discover the spa team’s deep sleep treatment to help you drift off.

Premier Atelier Suite at Mandarin Oriental, Paris

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 (pictured above). Both things will help encourage the release of natural melatonin and thus sleepiness.

Mandarin Room at Mandarin Oriental, Milan

Keep things cool

Finally, keep the temperature in your bedroom cool at night – a little above 17°C is optimal for most people (pictured above). 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.

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