A good night’s sleep has been linked to numerous health benefits, including improved mood and less chronic pain. While many people go to great lengths to create welcoming sleep environments in their homes, it can be difficult to recreate such atmospheres while traveling. That only highlights the importance of taking other steps to improve sleep while on the road, including avoiding certain beverages that can compromise one’s ability to get a good night’s rest.
1. Alcoholic beverages: The National Sleep Foundation notes that alcohol may interrupt a person’s circadian rhythm, affecting chemicals in the body that signal it when to sleep or wake up. Alcohol can help induce sleep, but the London Sleep Centre notes that alcohol can be especially disruptive in the second half of the night, reducing rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep, which researchers believe is restorative.
2. Caffeinated beverages: It may seem like a no-brainer to avoid caffeinated beverages, as caffeine is a stimulant that can provide a quick boost of energy. However, people who avoid caffeine during and after dinner in the hopes of avoiding sleep trouble may not know that even caffeinated beverages consumed in late afternoon can adversely affect their sleep quality. The NSF notes it takes roughly six hours for half of the caffeine the body consumes to be eliminated. That means half of the caffeine from a coffee consumed around 4 p.m. may still be in the body come 10 p.m. Travelers who typically have trouble falling asleep on the road may want to avoid caffeinated beverages in the afternoon.
3. Soda: Sodas contain caffeine, but people may think choosing caffeine-free sodas can help them sleep better. In fact, the NSF notes that carbonated beverages, including sodas, can trigger a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. GERD can produce a host of negative side effects, including physical discomfort and chronic cough, that can compromise a person’s ability to sleep. Avoiding carbonated beverages two to three hours before bedtime can reduce the likelihood that GERD symptoms will surface, which should help people achieve a more restful night’s sleep.
So what can travelers drink before going to bed? While water is always a safe bet, the NSF recommends caffeine-free herbal tee as a relaxing pre-bedtime beverage.