Travel is one of life’s greatest joys, whether you’re taking in the sights on a leisurely road trip or visiting far-flung family. But unfamiliar surroundings triple the risk of disrupted sleep, according to Cornell scientists. Luckily, these five quick fixes soothe common on-the-road sleep thieves, so you can enjoy yourself — and sleep soundly! — no matter where your travels take you.
Busy brain? Pick up a book.
Will there be a gas station along the way? Did I pack a swimsuit? It’s no wonder two in three of us have trouble quieting our brains long enough to drift off when we’re traveling. Thankfully, University of Minnesota scientists say reading for just six minutes before bed spurs the release of calming alpha brain waves. This cuts stress 68 percent and helps you drift off 40 minutes faster.
Twitchy muscles? Have some chocolate.
The problem: A new-to-you room puts your nervous system on high alert, blocking the release of relaxing serotonin and doubling your risk of sleep-sabotaging muscle tension.The fix: Savor a cocoa treat, like chocolate ice cream or Hershey’s Kisses. Doing so helps you fall asleep 15 minutes faster and cuts your risk of overnight awakenings in half. So say University of Arizona scientists, who found the combo of cocoa and sugar spurs serotonin release.
Achy body? Go for a stroll.
If a fun day driving around leaves you too sore to sleep, a 20-minute evening stroll can help. A study in the Journal of Aging Research suggests leisurely walks limber up muscles and joints, curbing aches and sleep troubles up to 75 percent. Study co-author Peter Maddison, Ph.D., says the gentle, whole-body motion boosts lymphatic flow to clear pain-triggering fluids and inflammation out of tissues.
Upset stomach? Picture this.
Celebratory dinners can leaving you feeling bloated and queasy. But research in the American Journal of Gastroenterology suggests you can cut symptoms by up to 80 percent and drift off in 10 minutes with a simple trick: Imagine unrolling a ball of yarn. Study co-author Beth Seliger, Ph.D., says visualizing a soothing task calms the nerves that control digestive function, easing painful spasms.
Feeling sleepy? Sip ice water.
Three in four of us wake up groggy on vacation (blame disruptions to our daily routine, which hinder the production of energizing beta brain waves). To boost your mental pep by 40 percent in five minutes, sip ice water, suggest UCLA researchers. Water quickly rehydrates brain cells, while the chilly temp prompts energizing beta wave release.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.