Sleep at the airport

Sometimes it makes sense to invest (time and money) to a proper sleep at the airport. If you have a long stopover during your recommended sleep time, it’s definitely worth exploring options in and near the airport. It may even make sense to plan your flights to have a sleep stopover – especially if your meeting next day is an important one. Short sleep on bed beats short sleep on airline seat any time.

Airport lounges
Some lounges have sleep pods – simple small rooms with a bed and shelf for your things. They would charge extra for this service, but if you have access to such lounge it’s usually not very expensive.

Airport sleep pods
Some airports also offer either sleep pods or capsule-hotel style rooms. These tend to be more expensive, but have 2 advantages.

– They have hourly rates – you don’t have to pay for the whole night if you only have a few hours.
– They are right at the airport premises – which may be helpful if your stopover is relatively short and you don’t want to waste time walking or riding to the hotel.

Airport hotels
Airport hotels are a good option for longer layovers. Some airports have hotels that cater for different budgets, some don’t. When deciding whether to pay extra for the hotel, you should consider these
– Do I have meeting next day that requires my full attention?
– Is there other place at the airport where I can take decent rest?
– How far is the hotel? How much time do I have? Is it enough?

If it makes sense, go for it. Night at the airport hotel is much cheaper than paying for the business class ticket.

Airport premises – free options
Even if you don’t want to pay any extras, you can find a good spot to relax. Some people seem to like sitting at cafes – and while they may have more comfortable seating compared to gates, usually they have bright lights and a lot of noise, not to mention that you have to guard your belongings well.

Instead you should look for “quiet zones” or “relax zones”, which many airports started offering to help travelers. They are usually in less busy part of the airport, secluded from all the buzz. Some even have recline seats or “beds” where you can lie down.

If your airport doesn’t have them, look for gates that are further away – there will be less noise and people walking around.

And if you don’t care much about people seeing you lying on the ground, find a clean and safe space and do that. Some of the repair functions of sleep (e.g. cleaning up the beta amyloid plaques related to Alzheimer’s disease) only happen in horizontal position.

Sleep at the destination
On top of being burdened with bad sleep on plane, or a long trip, we have another thing to face. There is a common knowledge that the first night that we sleep in new environment does not usually leave us fully refreshed. There is an evolutionary explanation – when our ancestors had to spend
night outside their safe and well explored environment, light sleep was advantageous to protect them against predators and other risks. Modern perspective is not less interesting – studies show that the first night in the new environment, one of our brain hemispheres is ‘on vigil’ and ….. (what happens?Less REM sleep?). The next night the other hemisphere takes over (to a smaller extent) and lets the first one rest.

So we already know that at least first night will be affected, but what can we do? First thing to focus is recommendations from ……… section. The right temperature, ….. etc – these are valid tools no matter where you sleep. Selecting hotel away from busy road or party district is a good idea. Some of the hotel chains have similar designs of their rooms in many locations – that may help to trick your brain into thinking this is
a safe environment.

When in hotel, ask for quiet room (away from the constant ‘ding’ of the elevator). Ideally there should be no strong light sources behind your window, or at least the …curtain…….. should be able to block it.

Next look at the bed. Hopefully the mattress is hard and soft enough to support your sleep. Check if the pillow suits your sleep style, if not sometimes you can ask for a different one, or just use folded towel.

Next is your room. Remove all the light sources that could disturb you during the night. Alarm clock, TV screen, countless LEDs – turn them off if you can, if not at least cover them.

It may also help to remove all the marketing materials the hotel provides. Our brains can’t help but to read when they see letters, it’s easier if they are out of sight.

If you are a worrior… type, you can check the emergency exists to feel like you are prepared in case something happens.

As you are preparing for the night, minimize the exposure to light. Pick the least bright source, …… to make phone into light source?…..
If there are sources of light outside your window, use the blackout curtain. You will not get benefit of being woken up by light in the morning, but it’s more important to avoid light during your sleep. If you need to use devices with screen, use tools to reduce the blue spectrum. If you have blue light blocking glasses, definitely use them.

If your hotel has a pool, you can consider going for a short leisurely swim. It may help your body to switch into parasympathetic mode, and help to cool down your core body temperature. Just make sure you don’t overdo it – you should avoid increasing core body temperature through exercise.

Good way to avoid stress is to be well prepared for the morning, especially if you are travelling for business. Prepare your clothes, presentation, etc. Make sure your alarm is set in the right timezone, following …[app name]… recommendations.

As mentioned, talking to a friend or family member, or reading a fiction book can help to switch your brain into more relaxed state. Short sleep meditation would be a perfect way how to ease up into sleep, or you can use the “2 minute military method” to lull you to sleep.

Ideal would be if you are awakened by natural light, but if you had to use blackout curtains you can use this trick. Set your alarm clock 10 minutes before you need to wake up. Upon waking, open the curtains and/or turn on all the lights, and set another alarm in 10 minutes. ??This can help you to
start …………
Alternatively you can travel with devices that will mimic sunrise by slowly increasing the light intensity before the actual alarm goes off. ??they are also a good light source in the evening?

– light alarm clocks
– how to make phone into red light source
– half brain sleep at new place

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