As much as possible, everyone wants to sleep on a soft, comfy bed, but when situations call for something else, it’s time to make do with what you have.
Have you ever found trouble sleeping on a plane, on a coach, or on a long bus ride? You're not alone. Current Biology recently published a study that tackles why you can't sleep well unless it's your bed. In this research, Brown University measured the brain activity of 35 individuals while they doze off in an unfamiliar place. Here, they found out that the left hemisphere of the brain shows wakefulness. This type of alertness is apparent in other animals performing a night watch – birds, whales, dolphins – allowing one to monitor the surroundings and respond when anything unusual comes around.
There's no explanation why the left brain does so, but this revelation leads to why you can be sleep-deprived when forced to take your naps outside your home. Sleep deprivation – a state where an individual gets less sleep their body requires to stay awake – can influence your mental and physical well-being, especially when experienced long term. As a warning, this disorder is usually signalled by frequent yawning, irritability, moodiness and difficulty in remembering new concepts.
Occasional discomforts can cause sleep deprivation, especially the lack of sleep-inducing settings (such as travelling). When faced with such situations, here are ways you can cope, so you can get your right amount of snooze wherever you go.
On a long train ride
Popular coach Amtrak has submitted some suggestions on how to keep those long train rides easy-breezy. You might not receive a comfort pack like those in the airlines, so make sure you bring a blanket to wrap yourself with, and a pillow to make use of the coach's legroom and recline options. You might want to watch a movie to keep you company, or listen to ambient sounds to bid the rough noises away. Last but not least, dress for comfort; you might not walk around in a full night gown, but why not slip into your silk pyjama top and experience the ease the soft fabric gives on your skin?
Alternatively, a long bus ride
Unlike coaches, busses can feel more constricted, but there's no reason to deny yourself of sleep. One thing you should do: practice the art of sleeping upright. With your pillow and blanket at hand, relax your muscles, lean on your back, and close your eyes. Recline your seat when possible. At best, take the window seat so you can lean against it as you take a nap. Too much light? Make sure you pack a sleep mask with you to keep those stirring bright lights away.
On a ship, experiencing seasickness
Not everyone is comfortable with the way oceans cradle ships with it big, frothy waves. If you're in a cruise and you're experiencing motion sickness, take heart. According to BBC, even mariners experience this phenomenon within the first three days of their every trip. It starts with yawning, cold sweat, headaches, and the gurgling nausea before vomiting. One way to overcome this? Sleep it off. Head to your cabin where the movement feels less. If you tend to be seasick, request a cabin in the middle of the ship, with a window, so you can look out into the horizon, which helps your brain calm down.
In a hotel room
Many people get a good night's sleep in hotels, but if you're not one of them, here are tips to getting that shut-eye: Instead of relying on the aircon, let the fresh air in by slightly opening the window. If there's a fan inside, use it; it creates an ambient white nose that helps you calm down. Still feeling stressed? If you haven't fallen asleep within 15 minutes of hitting the bed, get up, walk around, stretch or read a book. Avoid skimming through your smartphone. Dim the lights and have your sleep mask with you. Our tip? Get an aromatherapy candle that mimics the scent of your own room!
In an airport
Stuck in a 12-hour interval between flights? That’s a bummer. However, there’s no reason why you should stay awake for the entire time. Be prepared; make sure you’re armed with a blanket, a pillow and a sleep mask, plus a pair of earplugs to keep human noises at bay. Need to wake up at a specific hour? Set your alarm clock. If you have friends, you can ask them to guard your things as you take a nap (you can do this for them too as soon as you wake up).