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Blindfolded Travel (or: How To Sleep Anywhere)

I love being so engrossed in everyday life that sleep happens when it has to.

One of the roughest parts of travel is trying to get sleep. Hopping across time zones and breaking your daily routine of activity can turn your circadian rhythm into a breakbeat pretty quickly. Sure, you can tranquilize yourself with any of a dozen medications that twitchy friend of yours swears by, but I’m a fan of getting sleep naturally. Passing out after a long, rewarding day is much better sleep than forcing your eyelids to get heavy by taking pills.

Even after a long day, though, in uncomfortable situations it can be hard to fall asleep. A mental trick I like for getting to sleep quickly is finding complete darkness. When no more light hits your eyes, your body immediately kicks into sleepytime mode, naturally releasing melatonin and causing you to relax while your body slides into restful REM sleep.

Some nice hotels have thick curtains that block out all light (in India they also block out the sound of cars honking all night), but most of the time you probably aren’t sleeping there. Well, I’m not, at least. I generally prefer sleeping at a friend’s house or a hostel near my next day’s activity instead of a secluded hotel in a tourist area. This puts me right where I want to be for the next day’s adventure.

Which is exactly where the sleep mask comes in handy. It’s like an expensively dark hotel room you can always have in your pocket when you need it. I keep my sleep mask handy for those unexpected flight delays or sleeping at a generous friend’s house who likes to leave the blinds open. Sleep masks are generally only a few bucks, and considering the number of long, turbulent flights and hostels with hall lights shining under the door that I’ve been able to sleep in, they are a great investment. I even tend to sleep with one in my own bed now, and I’ve never slept more soundly.

If you have never bought one before, the variety of sleep masks is surprisingly big. Don’t worry about it, as they are all very similar. I’m a fan of the ultralight ones (they come with earplugs and a travel pouch so I forget they are even in my pocket), but there are big heavy ones for light sleepers, ones with personality, and some seriously intense ones that make you look like you are slowly becoming a cyborg.

They are all great options. Just make sure you get one with a thick adjustable velcro strap and not a flimsy, snappy rubber band that will rip your hair out at the root while you sleep. Also, make sure it comfortably blocks out all light, as that’s its entire job. Beyond that, go as crazy as you like.

If you are hardcore enough, you can get the Burton Sleeper Hoodie and have it built in to your jacket along with everything else you need, like the sexy travel ninja you are. So sexy.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Chris Dame, Chris Dame. Chris Dame said: New Article! Blindfolded Travel (or: How To Sleep Anywhere) […]

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  2. Nikki S. says:

    Great tips! That ultra light sweet dreams mask is amazing! When on long flights I’ve notice that it helps to have a super soft blanket to regulate temperature. I use the nap sac blanket and pillow that is sold at The Container Store. The blanket has a little pocket for a phone or ipod and it’s about as soft as a skinned teddy bear. I’ve actually heard people make baby sounds when wrapped inside it because it’s so comfortable. It takes up about as much space as a big shoe so it’s easy to squeeze into a bag. Highly recommend to other people who have trouble sleeping on planes.

  3. Chris Dame says:

    Thanks, Nikki! That sounds like an awesome little blanket I will have to check out soon. I’m a fan of ridiculously comfortable things.

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