Travelling for work? Here’s five tips for a great night’s sleep

Sleep expert Dave Gibson has revealed his top tips for a great night’s rest after new research revealed disrupted sleep patterns are among the biggest irritations about travelling for business.

A poll of 2,000 business globetrotters found more than one in five dislike being away from home, with missing out on family time and living out of a suitcase the primary reasons why.

Disrupted sleep patterns which come with being away from home was also commonly cited.

In fact, the study found the average business traveller loses an average of 45 minutes sleep each night while working away, getting just five hours and 13 minutes of shut-eye.

The findings emerged in a study by hotel company IHG, which has launched a pilot scheme introducing circadian lighting to help improve sleep for guests while they are on the road.

Circadian lighting systems are designed to control the colour and intensity of the light at particular times to align with our daily cycle and assist with wellness and sleep

Sleep expert Dave Gibson said: “Whether short or long-haul, long-stay or short-stay – travelling takes its toll on the body and mind.

“Regardless of journey time or destination, sleeping somewhere different to home is enough to disrupt your sleep.

“Our body has an internal clock, our circadian rhythm, which manages our sleep-wake cycle.

“Of all the environmental drivers of sleep including temperature, sound and food, light has the biggest single influence on our body clock.

“Simply, when we travel – this natural cycle is disrupted and it can lead us to becoming less productive – which is not ideal when we’re travelling for work.”


1. If you are travelling across time zones adjust your body clock in advance.

Possibly the biggest single sleep disturbance for those travelling is jet lag. Jet lag occurs when we travel across time zones and try to adjust our body clock, or circadian rhythm, too quickly. The best way to avoid this is to set your routine closer to the time at your destination a few days before you travel. Move your bedtime either an hour earlier (or later) each evening and try to change your meal times too if possible.

2. Get the light right.

Light is the biggest single cue for sleep and can be used to help your adjustment when travelling and getting to sleep easier. We are naturally programmed to feel tired when it gets darker and to be woken up by the morning light. When travelling, get your lighting in sync with the new time zone as soon as possible. If you are arriving at night, stay awake while you travel, and keep your lighting bright so you feel tired when you arrive.

3. Drink water, especially when flying.

Drink water to keep hydrated and avoid caffeine and alcohol especially when flying long haul, as dehydration is a symptom of jet lag. For those who plan to sleep within eight hours of getting off the plane avoid all caffeinated drinks. In addition, while the sedative effect of alcohol may help you to get to sleep more easily it fragments sleep and reduces sleep quality.

4. Eat healthily, but not too late, and take pro-biotics.

Our digestive system and our sleep are inextricably linked and are affected by what and when we eat or drink. Eat a varied diet with foods containing nutrients such as tryptophan, magnesium and vitamin D and eating your last big meal about four (and at least two) hours before you go to sleep. If you are travelling across different time zones, as you adjust your sleep and wake times, also change your meals to the new time zone if possible.

5. Choose your hotel carefully.

Where you sleep, matters. Choose a destination hotel that offers you the best chance of a good night’s sleep. Check they have a decent pillow menu, black out blinds or curtains and decaffeinated drinks in the room. Check noise levels, too and ask them to provide you with a room that is on a quiet floor and away from noise pollution like traffic.

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