Delays, jet lag, long hours of driving and the stresses of adjusting to new places can take a toll on business traveler’s health. Studies show power napping is a effective antidote to free-floating anxiety and increases work productivity when traveling.
ABC news reports, “A NASA study…shows that a nap of just 26 minutes can boost [work] performance by as much as 34 percent”.
20-40 minutes is considered the optimal nap length. According to Talk About Sleep, longer naps lead to deep sleep and REM (dream) sleep cycles. Those sleep phases can make travelers more disoriented and groggy upon waking. Program your electronics or set the hotel alarm clock for the 40 minute mark if you think your nap might turn into a marathon sleep session.
Get the Room Ready For Resting
- Turn up the air conditioning – humans sleep better when the temps are somewhat lower.
- Close the drapes – Dark, black-out drapes are best. A few presentation binder clips can help hold gaps in the curtains together. Some travelers carry along eye masks to block out light.
- White Noise – Engage your hotel AC unit since the fan noise leads to more restful sleep. Alternatively, bring a small fan from home to plug in for familiar sounds, or a portable noise machine with “nature” settings like ocean and rain. Other options – download nature noises on your iPod (design a sleep playlist of either gentle sounds or soft music), or adjust the hotel radio/alarm clock for soft music or static on a low setting.
- Unplug. Turn off the cell phone, unplug the hotel room phone, close the laptop.
- Hang the Do Not Disturb sign on the door. Many potential great naps have been nipped in the bud by unfortunate knocks on the door by hotel staffers.
- Quiet rooms. Find out if your room is near the elevator, stairs, laundry area or ice machine. You want a room in a less-trafficked zone of the hotel. Ear plugs are easy enough to pack along as a back-up alternative.
- Also, ask for a non-smoking room if the scent of cigarettes in your pillow is bothersome.
Prepare Yourself for a Cat Nap
- Take a warm shower or bath. The heat will make you drowsy and a nap is more comfortable when a clean body slips between clean sheets.
- Remove all work clothes and anything binding, like a wristwatch. Wear a clean, light cotton tee shirt or sleep unclothed.
- Stop thinking about travel and work. Allow the strains of the day to fade away. Read a few pages from a novel to distract your mind, or perform a few slow stretches while exhaling to help yourself relax. Some find gentle yoga or a few minutes of meditation great aids to ease one into a nap.
- Fill a glass with water and place by the bed. Travel Health Insurance reports, “staying well hydrated is a key part of jet lag management–and general travel health”. Whether or not you drink anything, just the ritual act of preparing the glass helps your frame of mind.
- Some people prefer to travel with their own pillow for extra comfort.
- Apply a lavender-scented hand lotion or linen spray on the sheets to enhance deep breathing.
- Avoid caffeine for 3-4 hours before a nap.
- Ask your doctor about sleep remedies and medications if you have trouble with insomnia when you travel. WebMD lists the pros and cons of using drugs like Ambien, Lunesta, Sonata, antihistamines and Xanax to help travelers grab a few winks.