3 Things to Help You Sleep on the Road

A light sleeper, by definition, is me. I wake up to the slightest creak in the floor, closing of doors, chirping of birds outside, music down the street… it’s awful. In order to get a good night’s sleep, I need to have a semi-controlled environment. As a traveler, moving from place to place often, that’s nearly impossible. So, how in the world do I get a good night’s sleep while I’m constantly in different places on the road?

With these 3 things, often all at once:

Trouble Sleeping
It’s a ruff life when you don’t get enough sleep.


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1. Travel Ear Plugs

In 2007 I spent three months backpacking the length of Central America. On the very last night of my trip, I discovered the ear plugs I’d had in my backpack the entire time. I was never into earplugs before, but that night in my hostel dorm, someone was snoring like a chainsaw. I pulled them out of my pack and tried them on.

Sleep had never been so good in a hostel, and I knew I could never leave home without earplugs, ever again.

Ear plugs can be super uncomfortable if you get the wrong ones. Many are stiff and oversized, which can make your ears very sore. The key is to get the smaller, really squishy kind like the Howard Leight Low-Pressure Foam Earplugs NRR 30. Trust me, I’ve tried so many, and these ones are the good ones, as they are designed for smaller ear canals. Essentially, that means they are made smaller so they don’t cause pressure inside your ears, plus they are super squishy and soft.

They come in boxes of 20 on Amazon for about $5. One of the best $5 you will ever spend!

2. Travel Eye Mask

I use an eye mask when I don’t have control over the curtains or the lights in a room. I used to use those free eye masks that they give out on airplanes, thinking those were just as good as any I could buy. WRONG.

This Alaska Bear Eye Mask is my favorite. It is silky smooth, which feels super light and cool against my eyes. It covers more area than the masks they hand out on planes, which is better for blackout. For $10 on Amazon, you can’t find a better silk eye mask for travel.

3. Travel Sleeping Pills

The third and final piece to the puzzle is something to help me fall asleep and stay asleep. I used to use Benadryl (a generic version) because it made me drowsy and it’s easy to find. Be careful with Benadryl, however, because it’s an antihistamine. Make sure it’s okay for you to take. Not for me anymore.

I now use Melatonin, which is a natural sleep aid. It essentially tells your brain to produce more melatonin, which tells your body that it’s time to sleep. I don’t use this every day, but when I take it, I usually take 3mg about 30 minutes before I want to go to sleep. If I want extra insurance, I take 6mg. Melatonin is also great for beating jet lag, because you can help re-train your brain to get tired when it’s bedtime, instead of letting it carry on in some far away time zone.

Related: 5 Pills for Traveling: Preventing Sickness on the Road

Trouble Sleeping
It’s hard to find time for a cat nap on the road.

More Ideas to Help You Sleep On The Road

Pack Breathe Rights. These are those strange bandaid-like stickers that go across your nose and help open up your nasal passages. I don’t use them often, but when I’m a little bit stuffy or sick, they work WONDERS. I also am more than happy to give them out to my friends who snore, whom I might be sharing a room with, if it means it might help me sleep in the end. They take up almost zero space once you get them out of the box. Also, if you snore, please get your own room. #sorrynotsorry

Create a nightly routine and stick to it. For example, I love to shower at night right before bed. I go to sleep fresh and clean, I put on my hand lotion, my lip balm, I put in my earplugs, and I go to sleep. I am convinced that having this sort of routine that I can control, even when I’m in new environments, helps me sleep.

Any other light sleepers out there? What can you add? How do you get your much-needed sleep when you are on the road?