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How To Hack Your Suboptimal Holiday Sleeping Arrangements

There’s no place like home for the holidays, and yet, if you’re like most people, you’re traveling. While it can be wonderful to travel, getting out of our regular routines can shock our bodies, making it more difficult to eat healthfully, stay regular, and, perhaps most importantly, to sleep well. We spoke to our experts Anjie Cho, a feng shui specialist, and Ellen Vora, M.D., mbg class instructor who specializes in anxiety and is a board-certified psychiatrist, licensed medical acupuncturist, and certified yoga teacher. Both provided tips on how to ready your space and body to get your best sleep ever no matter where you are. Here are their pro tips:

1. Clear the space.

Whether it’s a hotel room, sofa, or your childhood bedroom—a space that’s been used by someone else or left dormant for weeks (or months) needs clearing. “There can be residual energies from the people that have stayed there before or just from the people you’re staying with,” Cho said. The holidays in particular can make you feel more sensitive than usual to “foreign energy,” she warned. “By clearing the space, you’re just giving the place a little perk to provide a restful and spacious sleeping situation while traveling.”

Cho recommends a room-clearing mist because it doesn’t require burning anything in someone else’s space (you never when people might be sensitive to smoke), like a palo santo or orange essential oil spray.

2. Keep electronic devices at least 5 feet from your bed.

“If possible, it’s best to keep electronic devices at least 5 feet away from you while sleeping,” Cho said. It’s challenging enough for some people to sleep well in a new environment, but having tech nearby simply adds another distraction. “I always travel with Lotus Wei’s radiant energy, which works to expand your presence after computer use and travel. It’s a must for restful sleep while traveling,” she said.

3. Really unpack and make yourself at home.

The first thing Cho does when she arrives at her new destination is she takes a few minutes to unpack and get settled. “Putting your belongings away in a drawer creates a feeling of ownership and relaxation rather than the chaos of literally living out of a suitcase,” she said. When you’re done, tuck the suitcase away. “Your belongings also deserve to stretch out a bit after a long day of traveling, too.” Good point.

4. DIY blackout shades.

If you find yourself sleeping in a bright room and you need to make instant DIY blackout shades, pack some large black trash bags and duct tape. Traveling around the world with a 2-year-old who sleeps best in a completely dark room means we’ve gotten very good (and very fast) at fashioning perfect blackout shades out of trash bags and duct tape. One nice thing is that this doesn’t take up much room or weight in your luggage.

5. Pack a good-quality eye mask.

“I used to recommend Bucky brand until someone gifted me a Slip silk eye mask, and that has been my everything ever since,” said Dr. Vora. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s comfortable enough to stay on for the duration of your slumber.

6. Invest in a white noise machine.

Dr. Vora recommends the Marpac white noise machine if you’re someone who can’t stand the sound of silence. “You know when a product is well made and just kind of works? This is one of those,” she confirmed.

7. Take a warm shower or bath.

“Help cue your body for sleep by taking a warm shower or bath and then entering into a cold sleeping situation,” Dr. Vora advises. Even better? Try doing some gentle stretching before you hit the hay. This helps immensely, especially when your muscles, brain, and body are weary from traveling.

8. Be grateful for the roof over your head.

If your sleeping conditions are not as nice as they usually are, remind yourself that it could be worse. Way worse. “You could be sleeping on a thin camping pad in a damp sleeping bag in a leaky tent in the rain,” Dr. Vora said. Chances are, your current environment is more comfortable than that. Once you’ve thought about this, you will instantly feel more comfy and cozy—even if just a smidgen. Remind yourself you’re not on a plane, you’re in a bed (or couch or carpeted floor or whatever).

If you’re tired all the time (not just the holidays), check out this sage advice to help beat adrenal fatigue.