Sleep: The Final Frontier of Self-Love & Women’s Travel

Featured Image: Often underrated, sleep is the necessary evil in life that deserves more love. JourneyWoman Advisory Council member Shawna Robins is here to show you how to do that so you can be a better traveller. / Photo credit: kasto on Adobe Stock

Sleep Tips from Shawna Robins, JourneyWoman Advisory Council Member

Let’s face it: Women the world over are sleep deprived. We’re overworked. Overstressed. Some of us make unhealthy food choices, particularly after a restless night. We’re on our screens far too often. And it’s impacting more than our sleep quality, energy, focus, careers and family life. According to research from Columbia University Irving Medical Center, it’s having a longer-term impact on our health.

The 2020 study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found that women with worse overall sleep quality not only have a greater risk of heart disease but consume more of the added sugars associated with obesity and diabetes. Sobering findings, particularly in the pandemic era, where stress and worry have many of us reaching for unhealthy comfort food.

Young woman wearing eye mask sleeps on plane

Catching z’s in an upright position can have negative impacts on your overall sleep habits but anything can be made better with a little love / Photo credit: EdNurg on Adobe Stock

“Of the six million Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, two-thirds are women. Part of the factor with Alzheimer’s is that women don’t sleep. They don’t sleep because of their hormones. They don’t sleep because of their kids. They don’t sleep because of their worries, stress and anxieties, and it sets them up for neurodegenerative diseases as they age,” says Shawna Robins, sleep expert and member of our JourneyWoman Advisory Council. “Heart disease is the number-one killer of women. Why? Well, when you sleep your blood pressure naturally drops, so if you don’t sleep and your blood pressure stays elevated, that causes irreparable damage to the heart valves and cardiac walls. Sleep is an amazing gift that you can give yourself that can create amazing amounts of healing in your body.”

Shawna Robins Travel – contorting into a pretzel to snag some z’s on a plane, crisscrossing time zones, sleeping in strange beds – exacerbates sleep issues. While few of us are travelling currently, there’s no better time than the present to show ourselves some love and develop the habits that will improve our sleep quality and create even better travel experiences in the future. We sat down with JourneyWoman Advisory Council Member Shawna Robins (right) – author of Powerful Sleep: Rest Deeply, Repair Your Brain and Restore Your Life – to talk through her top tips for mitigating sleep distruptions and creating better-quality rest before, during and after travel. We encourage you to print these tips out and put them into daily practice in preparation for the day when you start to travel again.

How to handle sleep disruptions while travelling and after returning home – especially if you’re changing time zones a few times:

  • Take melatonin for the first few days of your trip, starting with the flight
  • Regular sleep/wake cycles
  • Get daily exercise
  • Eat meals at set times
  • Don’t get up when you wake in the middle of the night

How to prepare for a good night’s sleep on an overnight flight

  • Don’t take a prescription sleep aid (eg. Benzos or Ambien)
  • Don’t drink alcohol or binge-watch movies
  • Drink 8 oz of water for every hour on the flight
  • Create a sleep sanctuary in your seat
    o Eat dinner, brush your teeth and get cozy
    o Use earplugs/noise-cancelling headphones and sleeping mask
    o Get warm, use a blanket or weighted jacket
    o Use relaxation techniques – music, meditation, audiobook

How to prep for sleeping in a strange bed:

  • Create a sleep sanctuary
  • Eliminate all light in the room
  • Check the temperature (make sure you’re not too hot or cold)
  • Use a white noise app, earplugs, etc.

Successful sleep strategies for women over 40:

  • Make good daytime decisions – eating well, exercise, lower stress levels
  • Don’t eat or drink anything three hours before bed
  • Turn off all blue light one hour before bed
  • Journal – gratitude or happygrams, make a to-do list
  • Limit alcohol intake (1-2 drinks per week)
  • Take a warm bath or shower one hour before bed
  • Don’t use melatonin or prescription sleep aids regularly – Instead, use magnesium, tulsi (holy basil) tea, lavender, or CBD

Would you like more details on all of the tips provided in the lists above?As a JW Circle Member, you’ll get access to in-depth interviews with our JourneyWoman experts, members-only content, and more! COMING SOON!

Want a deeper dive into better sleep and overall health?

Download a free copy of Robins’ book here. She has also created a new program – Health, Your True Wealth – an 8-week online high-touch wellness program guiding you to create and implement your own unique roadmap to healthier habits that will have you sleeping better, feeling more energized, improving your brain health, and living more actively. She is offering a 50% program discount to JourneyWoman members. Email Robins at shawna@kaiahealthcoach.com for details.

Get to know Shawna and our other JourneyWoman Advisory Council Members here.

Amanda Burgess

Amanda Burgess is a Toronto-based writer and creative strategist whose bags are always packed for her next adventure; co-founder of the Sharyn Mandel School in Gobele, Ethiopia; and Acting Editor of Journeywoman. Follow her and her adventures on Instagram @unshakeable.me.

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