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How to Improve Your Chances of Getting a Good Night's Sleep When Travelling and Working Overseas

jet leg

Sleep is the best meditation - Dalai Lama

Getting a good night’s sleep is vital when you’re a self-employed online professional; after all, you need to ensure your work remains to a high standard all throughout the day as there is no supervisor around to keep you on your toes (unless you count your other half). Of course, getting high quality sleep – and lots of it – is pretty straightforward when you’re at home as you invariably have routines, creature comforts and familiar surroundings to help put you in the right frame of mind and coax you off to a peaceful night of slumber.

Unfortunately, this is rarely the case when working and travelling overseas as a self-employed digital nomad.

When I was an online worker travelling throughout Europe and Asia, I consistently encountered situations and circumstances which made it difficult (at times, impossible) to get much in the way of good quality shut-eye. Some of the most common of these unwelcome distractions included:

  • muggy night time temperatures
  • noisy environs
  • mosquitoes/bugs
  • foreign surroundings
  • Discourteous roomates/neighbours.

See also:Best Foods for Good Night Sleep

Thankfully, I soon discovered that there are ways to mitigate the effects of disturbances of this kind. So, if you’re a wandering online worker who experiences more than your fair share of restless nights on the road, be sure to take heed of the following tips.

Block out noise with ear plugs

Truly, I cannot recommend getting a decent pair of ear plugs highly enough. It doesn’t matter if you’re staying in a luxury hotel in Bangkok (lucky you), an Aussie camping ground or a hostel in an out-of-the-way Indian town, you can bet your bottom dollar/rupee/baht that you WILL hear noise of some kind during the night. Although ear plugs won’t fully block out the racket created by loud snorers, rowdy roomates, clunky air conditioning units or wild wedding party celebrations, they will reduce it to a point where it seems far more distant and bearable (good quality ear plugs will anyway). Moreover, ear plugs can prove invaluable when trying to grab a bit of motion-based kip on trains and buses too. Trust me; being forced to listen to the adhān (Islamic call to prayer) played over and over again on a long-distance Moroccan bus, or being woken up at silly o’clock by the incessant warbling of ’wake-up music’ on a Chinese sleeper train is no fun – no fun at all.

Keep cool yet covered with a quilt cover

Many wandering online workers pack a sleeping bag when they hit the road for the very first time. Although sleeping bags are fine options for temperate and cold climates, they can be prove to be quite a burden when trying to sleep in humid, tropical locales. The reason for this simple – sleeping bags retain heat and make you sweat, causing you to feel far too hot and muggy to doze off. While many experienced travellers and backpackers opt for a simple cotton sheet to keep them covered when sleeping in the Tropics, I found the humble quilt cover (single) to be the ’best’ option. Unlike a sheet, a quilt cover allows you to get inside it, thus enabling you to protect yourself from any wee beasties which might be in your budget hostel’s mattress as well as afford you a reassuring yet lightweight covering to mitigate the effects of early morning chills or overzealous A/C units. One more piece of advice: opt for a plain design; unpacking a Peppa Pig, Amazing Spiderman or One Direction quilt cover in a hostel dorm room will more than likely result in you being the last to be asked out for a few ’getting to know you’ drinks...

Enjoy some proper shut-eye with a sleepmask

Anyone who has ever spent any time staying in a commercial neighborhood in any good sized Asian city will tell you that there is one thing which drives them crazy more than anything else come night time: neon. Places like Shanghai, Bangkok, Tokyo, Seoul – and a hundred other cities besides – literally fizz with flashing neon signs in between dusk and dawn. While the metronomic colour changes caused by this onslaught of in-your-face advertising is kept at bay in high quality hotels and B&Bs that have decent drapes fitted, the same is seldom true in more budget orientated accommodation options where curtains and blinds are the stuff of dreams. Sleep masks (or even motorbike snoods) can be real lifesavers in this respect as they will keep any and all light far away from your eye lids, thereby enabling you to mentally switch off and indulge in some monk-like meditation of your own.

See also:The Impact Of Work-Life Balance On Your Sleep

Regardless of what you do for a living, going without high quality sleep, even for a relatively short period of time, will inevitably have an adverse effect on the quality of your work. If your work suffers then your income will suffer too and if this happens, you can be pretty sure your opportunities to see the world as a wandering online worker will become very few and far between indeed. So, do yourself a favour and make sure you pack a quilt cover, sleep mask and ear plugs (and a decent mosquito net if you need to) next time you go away on a digital nomad jaunt.


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