Have you ever gone a bit green with envy when you see a toddler sound asleep in the most unusual of places?
They’re hunched over in their stroller in the supermarket, with bright lights, loudspeaker announcements, and big brother pulling at their hair.
As you lie sleepless in a strange place, you long for the days when you could sleep anywhere without a care in the world.
Fortunately, there are some life hacks that will allow you to get the rest you need, no matter where you are or what kind of day you’ve had. After all, sleep is critical for health, and no one can afford to miss out!
Tips for Sleeping Anywhere
Traveling / Vacation
When you’re traveling, the best thing you can do is remain comfortable. You don’t need to do a three-piece suit for your first-class flight if the idea is to get some shuteye while you are up in the air. The same goes for long train or bus rides. Dress for comfort. Yoga pants and sweats are comfy, cozy, and will help you lounge during travel.
During a vacation, your schedule is bound to shift, but make a concerted effort to maintain your regular routine. Not only should you go to sleep and wake up at around the same time as your typical schedule, but we also recommend maintaining the same activity levels and eating similar foods. Don’t introduce spicy food if you’re not used to it, for example, because it’ll keep you awake and could disrupt digestion. (See more on sleeping and digestion.)
Here are the tips for preventing the jet lag, in case you want to see more about that.
Unfamiliar surroundings often make sleep elusive. If you’re at a friend’s house, make sure you are well-equipped with blankets and pillows. Check the temperature. The ideal room temperature for sleep is between 60 and 68 degrees. If it’s too warm, ditch the layers to cool off. However, if the room feels cold, bundle up and get cozy,
If the house is noisy, you may want to bring along some headphones or earplugs to drown out disruptive sounds. And, of course, don’t forget to bring your pajamas!
All that fluffy hotel bedding can you make you feel like a king or queen. However, there’s no place quite like home, and being in a strange place can keep your brain on high-alert.
Wearing your own pajamas can help make your environment more familiar. Also, check the thermostat and set it to the magical 60 to 68-degree range. Keeping the room dark is usually a breeze because hotels often have thick curtains to block out the light.
Unless your workplace has a dedicated napping room, getting some rest at work while on a tight deadline can be a challenge. If the weather is mild, head to your car and take a nap in the parking lot. Make sure you recline your seat for comfort and privacy and bring a blanket that signals your body that it’s time for bed.
If you have a private office, close the door, turn out the lights, put your phone on do not disturb, and alert your colleagues that you’re inaccessible. These precautions ensure that you won’t be bothered. Oh, and don’t forget to set an alarm. You should limit an office nap to 20 to 60 minutes to avoid disrupting your nighttime sleep schedule.
Missed connections at the airport are one of the most common reasons you’ll find yourself out in public and in need of some rest. Airports are nearly impossible to sleep in if you’re not prepared. They’re noisy, cold and many have chairs that feel like torture devices with no room to stretch out comfortably.
Many people will caution you against finding a dark, secluded corner to grab some shuteye, but if you’ve ever tried sleeping in bright lights out in the open, it’s a nearly impossible psychological feat. So, find a quiet corner, but keep your belongings attached to you to prevent theft. You never know, your suitcase could end up being a wonderful spooning partner.
Some airports have cots on hand, so find security personnel and politely request one, especially if the idea of sleeping on the hard ground or plastic chair isn’t on the top of your list.
If you’ve got noisy roommates or your family is making a raucous, the best tip to block out the sound is to create some of your own. A white noise machine creates a whooshing sound (or opt for a model that has nature sounds or soothing music) that drowns out the cacophony happening in your home.
You can also turn on a fan, which creates a similar type of soundtrack. Earplugs and headphones are also useful tools for silencing a noisy background.
Strategies to Fall Asleep Faster
If you’re dealing with a stressful situation like being stranded at the airport, relaxing may seem like an impossible feat. However, pressuring yourself to all asleep isn’t going to help, either. Instead, take a few deep breaths and make an effort to relax. Remember, the situation is only temporary, and you’ll be back in your own bed soon.
If you’re on vacation, remember that this is a happy time! Even if you’re having trouble falling asleep, you can at least rest easy knowing that you don’t have to deal with your daily routines or office politics. Do your best to stay in the moment and savor the fact that you are alive and breathing.
Remove Your Worries
We have a natural tendency to worry. Maybe we’re concerned about the plane crashing, or we’re thinking about getting home to our to-do list. Remember, wherever you are right now, there’s not much, if anything, you can do to address those worries. Tell yourself that for the next 20 minutes you’re not going to think about anything. Turn your mind into a blank slate, and you’ll be surprised how quickly sleep comes.
Ease Your Muscles
You may need to get up and stretch, especially if you’ve been in one spot for a while. There also helpful muscle relaxation techniques that involve focusing on a single part of your body, tensing it, and then relaxing it. Start at your feet and move up to your head, or vice versa.
Listen to Your Breathing
Focusing on your breath is a time-tested way to relax. Make an effort to breathe in deeply, hold it for a count of three, and then exhale through your mouth. Repeat this exercise ten times, and you’ll be amazed by how much better you feel.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I force myself to sleep?
If you are desperate to get some shuteye, here are three tips to help you fall asleep fast:
- Inhale through your left nostril: This breathing technique is done in yoga to quiet the mind, and it’s useful during menopausal hot flashes, too. For the sake of falling asleep quickly, it’s a proven method to decompress and relax.
- Try to stay awake: If your body isn’t cooperating, and sleep seems elusive, try a bit of reverse psychology. Instead of trying to force yourself to sleep, try to stay awake instead.
- Fantasize: Often, sleep eludes us because we’re thinking about our present worries, task lists or things from our day that frustrated us. Instead, think about something pleasant. Imagine yourself in your favorite place doing something fun. This exercise takes your mind off the present, and it helps you drift off to sleep.
How can I sleep comfortably on a couch?
The best thing to do is to make the couch resemble a bed. Instead of using couch cushions to rest your head, grab a pillow from the bedroom instead. You might also need extra padding as sofas tend to have butt imprints from hours (or years) of sitting. Additional layers of blankets beneath your body can help even out the surface and make it more comfortable.
How can I nap comfortably on a desk?
The first thing we suggest is not to lie down on your desk. We think even the floor would be preferable to the hard surface of a workstation. However, we do recommend using the desk as a prop. Ideally, you’ll have an office chair that reclines. If not, sliding your body down the back of the chair from a seated position will closely resemble a reclining position.
From there prop your feet up on either the desk or something else that’s elevated. It may be another chair, stool, ottoman or even an upturned office trashcan.
Finally, cross your arms over your chest or in your lap. You’ll find that position is much more comfortable than having them dangle at your sides or on the armrests.
If falling asleep at home is a challenge for you, we can only imagine how much more difficult it is when you’re in public or a strange place. Hopefully, you’ve found these tips about how to sleep anywhere useful. Perhaps you can even incorporate some of them into your home sleeping arrangement!
Author: Sleep Advisor
Our team covers as many areas of expertise as we do time zones, but none of us started here as a so-called expert on sleep. What we do share is a willingness to ask questions (lots of them), seek experts, and dig deep into conventional wisdom to see if maybe there might be a better path towards healthy living. We apply what we learn not only to our company culture, but also how we deliver information to our over 12.7M readers.
Sleep research is changing all the time, and we are 100% dedicated to keeping up with breakthroughs and innovations. You live better if you sleep better. Whatever has brought you here, we wish you luck on your journey towards better rest.