Sleeping tips: improve sleep when you're away from home on business

Monday, April 18, 2016 by Scott Coles

We travel for a multitude of reasons, two of which include business and pleasure. Regardless of which, you might find it hard to settle in to a new routine, new environment, and new sleep pattern when you reach your destination.

I have travelled extensively throughout my life. When travelling for business, I have found it especially difficult at times trying to adjust to a new routine and time zone, all while being focused on the tasks and meetings for which you have travelled.

So how can you best rest when you’re away from home?

I’ve put together some great sleeping tips when you’re away from home for business purposes.

sleeping tips

We love to travel

If you’re a fan of quotes, you’ve probably come across this one before: “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”.

Speak to friends, colleagues, and family members and you might be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t travelled – domestically or internationally – in the past couple of years!

Some quick stats:

  • Business travel injected US$1.7 trillion into the global economy in 2014
  • In 2014, Europeans (aged 15 and above) made 1.2 billion tourism trips for personal or business purposes
  • 68.2 million Americans travelled in 2014, 30.8 million of whom ventured overseas
  • In 2013-14, 11% of Australia’s population took a domestic flight for business
  • In Australia, more than 8 million overseas trips were taken in 2014

  • That’s a lot of time spent away from home and family!


    Sleeping tips when you’re away from home

    So what can you do to ensure you sleep and rest well when you’re on the road, especially if you’re travelling for business purposes? Read on!

    1. Scope out your hotel room

    When you’re still in the research phase, analyse any potential accommodation by checking out its location, and determine whether it’s near:

    • •  A busy freeway
    • •  A train line
    • •  A train station
    • •  Clubs, bars and restaurants
    • •  The airport!

    You can also look for hotel rooms that have blackout curtains and soundproof windows.

    If you’re a light sleeper, you know the slightest noise can disturb your slumber and leave you tossing and turning all night. If earplugs and an eyeshade aren’t enough, ensure you scope out your hotel room and its location before you book. 

    While on a holiday for pleasure, we’d probably love being located within walking distance of some of the best restaurants and bars, but if you’re travelling for business, you’re going to relish those peaceful nights of sleep.

    2. Don’t be afraid to make special requests

    Online hotel booking facilities don’t include the “Special Requests” text box for nothing!

    You might like to enquire about booking a room that is:

    • •  On a high floor to minimise the noise of ground traffic
    • •  At the end of a hall
    • •  Away from elevators
    • •  Away from the car park or pool
    • •  Non-smoking (the faint smell of old cigarette smoke may unsettle some people)

    And while you’re organising your transport for the next day, you can also ask the hotel to hold all calls. Don’t be afraid to put out that Do Not Disturb sign, either.

    3. Adapt to your time zone on the plane

    As soon as you’re settled on your flight, adjust your phone and watch to mimic the time of your destination.

    This helps to gently ease you into a new time zone, whether it’s a drastic change or just a few hours ahead or behind.

    On the plane, use an eye mask, headphones, earplugs, and a neck pillow to get comfortable.

    Many people also use a white noise app though their smartphone to block out any stray external noise, or noise cancelling headphones.

    If at all possible, try and arrive the day before a big meeting so you give yourself the additional time to adjust. That early morning flight – even domestically – can totally mess with your sleep.

    4. Stick to your ‘home’ routine

    Especially applicable for business travellers who need to be switched on to face days of meetings, lunches, seminars, and appointments, sticking as closely as possible to your normal routine can help make you feel calmer in a new setting.

    You could:

    • •  Bring along your own pillow (or pillowcase if luggage room is limited)
    • •  Bring the same old t-shirt you lounge around the home in
    • •  Watch the same show you watch at home when you’re winding down at the end of the day
    • •  Bring familiar scents, like shampoo, moisturisers or a small bottle of your favourite perfume

    5. Limit where you work

    While it can be tempting to snuggle up in bed with some snacks and your laptop, you should be telling your body that bed is for sleep only.

    This is something we advocate at home, too, so doing this elsewhere – in an unfamiliar town, hotel, and room – might throw your routine into disarray.

    Many modern hotels are equipped with built-in desks, so really try to create a distinction between bed and work.


    …And what if I simply cannot get to sleep?

    Do you feel as if you’ve been tossing and turning for hours on end, and no matter how many times you fluff your doona or plump your pillow, sleep just doesn’t feel achievable right now?

    That bright light from the clock isn’t helping either – instead, watching the time tick by can actually stress you out and make it even harder for you to get to sleep!

    Then get up! But keep the lights low, and do something low impact and calming, like reading a book or magazine.


    Airport pods

    Airport pods are becoming more popular amongst the world’s biggest airports.

    These tiny hubs are ideal for business travellers who have a couple of hours to kill when arriving or departing. It’s not exactly enough time to book out an entire hotel room, so these sleep pods are an alternative (and often cheaper) way to catch up on a couple hours of rest.

    While you pay by the night at a hotel, a sleep pod will often charge on an hourly basis, so if you’re stuck with a seven-hour layover, you can pay for a couple of hours and spend some time in your pod.

    Airport pods allow you to escape the terminal and catch up on work or sleep, charge your device, and escape the hustle and bustle of a busy airport.


    Sleep is important, no matter where you are in the world!

    Travelling for business can be exhausting, but it’s also rewarding when it comes to helping your business succeed.

    It’s so important to maintain good sleep hygiene at all times, but perhaps even more so when you’re away from the comforts of your own home and bed. Safe travels!

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