Six Tips For Adjusting To New Sleeping Environments as a Nomad

by | Oct 24, 2017 | Digital Nomadism, Guest Blog, Uncategorized, Work-Life-Balance | 0 comments


Your friends at home may think you’re just snoozing on a beach pretending to ‘work’… but we all know that being a working nomad isn’t all fun and games.

Constantly on the move, contending with new foods, dealing with new customs and especially handling new sleeping environments; all can be tough on both mind and body. Often, as a result, our sleep suffers.

And if our sleep suffers, our work suffers with it. A tired nomad works slower, makes more mistakes, makes worse decisions and could potentially lose this work altogether.

Now, I’ve spent many a sleepless night in more countries than I care to remember. But thankfully over time I’ve developed a few coping strategies that I’m happy to share below. Warning: you may not like some of them…


#1 Bring that leaving party forward

Question: Jumping on that plane tomorrow, what do you do tonight?

Answer: Go out and party of course, it would be a crime against humanity not to say goodbye to the crew. Right?!

Wrong! While tonight would be amazing, tomorrow is going to be an unmitigated disaster. You’re just going to end up in your new location exhausted, with your sleep patterns completely out of whack. Meaning that immediately you’re already on the back foot.

Top tip: Move that leaving party forward by a week. This means you can dance the night away with your besties and still be as well rested as possible when you arrive at your new home away from home.


#2 Beat that jet lag

You’ve seen Lost in Translation, right? Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson wandering Tokyo hotel halls like bleary-eyed zombies unable to sleep… Sound familiar?

We all know that jet lag is a bitch. And while sometimes it is quite unavoidable there are a few little tips you can take onboard with you to mitigate its effects.

Several days before you catch your flight try to gradually adjust your sleeping times to match your new location; even if only by an hour a day. Then whilst onboard change your watch to match local time and adjust your naps accordingly to fit in with your new bedtime.

And – sorry about this one – but avoid caffeine and alcohol on your flight. I know, I know…it is free. Oh so free! But both do your sleep patterns no favours at all.

Actually, since I brought it up, I might as well get this one out of the way…


#3 Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Full stop.

‘Arrrgh, you monster! What do you mean? These are my only reasons to live!’

Calm down, calm down. I don’t mean forever. (That full stop was only temporary.) I just mean for the first few days after you’ve arrived and acclimatised to your new sleeping environment.

Coffee, of course, keeps you wired. And despite what you may have been conditioned by TV to believe, beer and wine are not sleep aids and should never be treated as such.

A beer may help you to nod off initially but alcohol won’t help you get a good night’s sleep. Quite the opposite, in fact.


#4 Get a routine and stick to it

I know, traveling is all about breaking routines. But when it comes tricking your brain into that sleepy mood, a routine really is your best friend. Ask any expert, like these guys, they’ll tell you I’m right.  

It doesn’t have to be anything complicated – a few tried and tested nightly habits can be very successful.

Mine involves unplugging an hour before sleep (that means my laptop and phone), having a herbal tea (a selection of which I carry with me and replenish whenever I can), showering, brushing my hair, reading my book and then sleeping.

See, nothing complicated. And it’s repeatable whether I’m staying in a busy hostel in Prague, a beach hut in Myanmar or petsitting a German Shepherd in Tokyo.


#5 Don’t work where you sleep

This is one I learned early on. Back in those days, I did far too much work from my hostel bunk or hotel bed. Not only did this give me a pain in my neck, it also meant that when it came to sleeptime my brain associated the space with work and not sleep.

So take your work outside – find a nice cafe, co-working space, park bench, anything. Head there during your ‘work hours’ and then return to your temporary pad for sleep.


#6 Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize

New town, new bed – that means new night-time noises to contend with.

Maybe it’s the 2am cockadoodling of confused cockerels. Or the disturbing grunting noises coming from the next bunk in the dorm, which you really, really hope are snores. Whatever the noise, ear plugs are the solution for you.

And while you’re packing, stick a sleep mask in your bag. Nothing works better at blocking out drunken stumblers turning on the lights or the sun rudely rising at 6am.

These two inexpensive sleep accessories are essentials for overcoming unwelcoming new sleep environments, and both should be in your nomadic kit.


Final Thoughts on Adjusting to New Sleeping Environments as a Nomad

There you have it, six of my tried and tested tips to help the wandering nomad sleep in new environments.

And while one or two may seem to suck the fun out of trip, don’t worry – they’re just temporary measures, after all. Once you get a few nights’ rest and a few days’ work under your belt, then you can rip up the rulebook and go wild.

Sweet dreams, traveler!

My Bio Pic

About the Author

Hi, I’m Sarah. I’m a California gal who studied sleep deprivation and enhancement after graduating from UCLA. My current aim is to help people be more productive in their daily lives by improving their sleep cycle.


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