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How to Sleep Well When You’re Away from Home

How to sleep well no matter where you are — even on a plane.

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When it comes to sleep, Dorothy had it right: There’s no place like home. But it’s possible to score a good night’s rest at a hotel, friend’s house, or even during a long flight. You just have to make a few smart moves. The following tips can help you get the zzz’s you need, no matter where you are.

Bring comforts from home. Research shows that your brain goes on high alert when you sleep in a new place. This can lead to tossing and turning. Bringing your own pillow or even sheets can help make a strange bed feel more familiar. No room in your suitcase? Pack your pillowcase. If you’re staying at a hotel, request your favorite type of pillow, whether it’s firm or soft. 

Pack sleep tools. Even if you don’t use them at home, bring a sleep mask and earplugs. They block out those middle-of-those-night noises and lights. A relaxing scent, such as lavender, can also help you doze off peacefully.

Choose the right seat. Flying a red-eye? Book a window seat on the side that you sleep on. That way, you can snooze on your favorite side without cuddling up to another passenger. Dress in comfy clothes, and use a neck pillow for support. 

Tackle jet lag. It’s past midnight, but your body tells you that it’s still daytime. To sync your internal clock to a new time zone, get outside and soak up some sun. If you can’t keep your eyes open, take a cat nap. Just set an alarm to wake up in 20 to 30 minutes: Snooze any longer, and you’ll wake up feeling groggy instead of refreshed.

Treat the aches and pains. Your back or head can hurt after a long day of travel. Don’t let pain keep you up. A nighttime pain reliever, such as Advil PM, can help you sleep soundly.

Follow your bedtime routine. When you’re in a new place, your usual habits can get turned upside-down. But carve out some time for your normal before-bed activities, such as reading, bathing, or stretching. That can signal to your body that it’s time for sleep.