Many business travelers say they don’t sleep very well or very long on the road.
Let me give you my previous view of sleep on the road.
Any given business travel evening, I may be attending or speaking at an event, out to dinner with clients or having dinner with my laptop lover.
You got that, right? You know the business traveler having dinner with their laptop (hence laptop lover) then taking that lover up to your room for a nightcap. Drink in hand, and not water, to crank out the work.
There’s no other way on the road, right?
For me, it looked like having the stadium lights on in the room, TV on, iPad on, phone on, and of course my computer to “crank out the work” after an already long day of work on the road.
Then, after midnight, ending the affair with my laptop lover (at least for tonight) I watch mindless TV, and even though I would pass out physically in my bed, my mind was still running a million miles an hour.
Eventually, I would fall asleep only to wake up a couple of hours later to go to the bathroom and enjoying a parched mouth that felt like cotton balls multiplied in my mouth due to too much alcohol and not enough water.
Ever had THAT happen?
My mind would begin to race of all the things I still had to do and slowly I would fall back asleep only to wake up a couple of hours later sharp as a… bowling ball.
Wash Rinse Repeat – day 2, 3, and 4 of my business trip.
I pushed back when people told me I needed MORE sleep. Huh? I sucked at the sleep I did get, what would MORE bad sleep do for me?
And like I had MORE time for sleep. Oh, the naiveté of Road Life.
Sadly, this is the headline story for too many road warriors on any given business travel night.
Some just believe they’ll never sleep good on the road so why even try.
But here’s the misconception: Adding sleep is the only way
Lies Nothing But Lies!!
Here’s the Road Reality: Improve Before You Increase
Improve your sleep before you increase your sleep. Improve that 5 or 6 hours you are getting every night then we’ll address adding any sleep.
If what you get doesn’t improve first, adding more bad sleep is not going to be the answer.
I’m the poster child visual of THAT subject and have had years to perfect it.
Here’s the Point:
Think Quality of Sleep then Quantity of Sleep. Improve Before You Increase.
Got it? Improve what? The quality of sleep you’re getting right now in a hotel room.
Then and only then…
Increase what? The quantity of sleep.
So, why do you need a sleep kit on the road?
Well, if the answer isn’t obvious, let me put those DoubleTree cookies on the bottom shelf and say it:
There’s a GREAT chance what sleep you get on the road isn’t good or to use our word, quality, and before we plan on adding any additional sleep (INCREASE), we need to IMPROVE the sleep you are getting.
So, now that we have that as a baseline, how do you begin to improve the sleep you’re getting?
- Create a Road Warrior Sleep Kit.
I know you can giggle, I did and pushed back for a long time.
But between us girls? For the longest time, my sleep kit was a secret sauce – alcohol.
But wait, Mr. Elite Road Warrior guy? Alcohol makes me sleepy and how I justify drinking before bed. How do you respond to that!
Now, although alcohol may make you sleep and help you fall asleep QUICKER, the goal isn’t quick, it’s QUALITY. Remember, improve before increase.
I would sleep quicker with my secret sauce but even if I didn’t have too much to drink, I didn’t wake up rested. I woke up more – to go to the bathroom, or because my mouth was dry, etc. and I felt groggy, not sharp in the morning.
Not the end goal, road warrior.
After a while, I heard of CEOs, musicians, athletes, and other high performers using certain elements that improved the quality of their sleep.
I studied what they did to improve the quality of their sleep. I interviewed sleep experts like Terry Cralle now on the Elite Road Warrior Group Team and then began putting these elements into a “some assembly required” sleep kit for me to take on the road. Literally.
Let’s break this Sleep Kit down.
The first question always asked of me is what do you put the sleep elements in?
You could just randomly put them into your carry-on but I’m one of those organized… okay OCD business travelers who “has a place” for everything so I wanted an organized system. Hence…
It’s up to you but my criteria was as follows:
- Portable – “To go”
- Slim – Doesn’t take up much room in my carry-on
- See-Through – Able to see what was in there for easy access
That’s it – nothing magical or high tech, just functional for the road.
You may find your own criteria but you’re welcome to start with mine.
So, what actually goes IN the Sleep Kit?
Now, mine came from trial and error and some came from simply trying to solve a problem. For example, the 1st three elements in my sleep kit…
Once I started having the room as dark as possible and not allowing any light in to IMPROVE the QUALITY of my sleep, I started making some “solve the problem” additions to my kit.
This sounds so remedial but one of my biggest pet peeves is light coming through the seams of the curtains.
And all too often my room faces the parking lot with the stadium lights coming through my room.
Having clips that can hold the curtains shut is huge for me. I carry three to make sure those curtains are locked down.
I bought mine from an office supply store and are larger clips.
2. Electrical Tape
Back to my “solve a problem” rant, once the curtains were closed, now it was the little lights all over the room that are hardly noticable in the light. But when it is dark? They look like laser lights. Not cool man.
Hence the electrical tape. I tried putting a towel over these lights but the light would still shine through or the towel would fall. I’ll use a tiny little strip of electrical tape on the tv light, microwave, smoke detector, etc.
I also unplug the alarm clock then use duct tape for the large crack of the room door. Just kidding
Yeah, although a lot of fun, not the best use of time and electrical tape. I’ll use a large bathroom towel to cover the light from the door seam.
3. Cotton Balls
Not the ones in your mouth from too much drinking but for the vents.
Changing the scent in your room to be both familiar but also prepare you for sleep is key.
You’re wanting routine and this will help.
I change the day scent (which for me is Eucalyptus) to Lavender for the evening.
I also have the AC system on the ON selection, not AUTO so it’s constantly running to minimize noise and keep the scent flowing.
4. Essential Oils
This is part two of the cotton balls.
I keep a few cotton balls in my Sleep Kit, put a few drops of essential oils, and that’s it. Simple and effective. This is for the consistent, enjoyable scent for the room.
Now, for bedtime, I personally put the essential oils of Lavender and Serenity (from DoTerra) and mix them with fractionated coconut oil that goes in a small rollerball and then rub it on the bottom of my feet which is the place that absorbs the quickest into my body) to calm my system.
I was a skeptic of essential oils and now use them in so many ways:
- Change the scent in the room
- Help me sleep
- Put lemon oil drops in my morning water
- Massage sore muscles
- Better breath
5. Blue-Blocker Glasses
Not only do they look cool, but they’re also critically important because we’re almost always on a screen that emits blue light most if not all of the evening.
The reality is we’re going to have devices on in the evening which means that blue light is going to affect the quality of our sleep and that’s what we’re talking about here first: IMPROVE then INCREASE.
I bought some cheap ones to try them out and now invested into the top of the line, Swanwick blue-blocker glasses because I used them so much. I got mine from the Sleep Score Lab.
6. Eye Mask
I’m still not a fan of the eye mask because I feel strange wearing it, but they work and when I need to have it, I’d rather have it available.
I find that it’s most handy for me if I have a very very late flight and want to try and sleep in – I want it in grabbing distance if I wake up and see the light streaming in. My two teenage sons react to morning light like vampires in training but scared of blood. Go figure.
It’s one of those again where I bought a cheap one off Amazon to try it out then upgraded to a Swanwick one from Sleep Score Lab since it proved worthy of my Sleep Kit.
And lastly, the big-ticket item…
7. Bose Sleep Buds
These surprised me. I’m a big fan of the BOSE noise-canceling headphones but why would Bose invest in the sleep industry? You can find them here.
Because a quality night of sleep on the road is big business.
I can do all I can do to control the light but when that blasted hotel door slams shut, the elevator or ice machine is used, or your clueless neighbor next door has his TV on at 4 am before his flight, on a late conference call, or a family of kids with a toddler sporting his lungs, these are an absolute lifesaver.
This is how they work:
- They’re small and fit so comfortably in your ear. You have a ton of soothing, noise-canceling sounds you can choose from that are downloaded actually onto the ear bud.
- The sound is not a loop but continual.
- You can set an alarm which I absolutely love because then I don’t have to rely on the alarm clock, power going out, or the front desk missing the wake-up call or getting it wrong.
I also love them because I’m in control and sleep is my biggest performance enhancer on the road.
To me, worth the investment.
After reading these suggestions, I hope you realize the importance of QUALITY in your sleep. Try these tips and products for your sleep kit, and have the best sleep of your life! (Ok maybe not the best, but that’s what we’re working towards!)