How to Sleep Anywhere by a Wandering Insomniac

Author & Photographer: Han Fisher

Sleep, that essential but often elusive companion on life's journey. I have always been incredibly impressed by those people who can hop on a plane and just fall asleep - seemingly before the pre-departure brief is even over. That is, unfortunately, absolutely not me, and if you’re reading this, I'm guessing it's not you either. For me to drift off to sleep, even at home, the metaphorical stars of comfort and calm must align. Fortunately there is plenty to be done to align them. In this guide, I'll share my hard-earned tips to help you achieve restful nights and make the most of your adventures. This article covers 10 important points, but if you choose to trial even 3 which resonate with you, I’m sure you’ll be off to sleep in no time.


A woman sleeps in a boat cabin with a Vivida Eye Mask
1. Establish a Portable Pre-Bed Routine

Begin by training yourself with a consistent bedtime routine that transcends the boundaries of your home. Whether it's journaling, reading a book, or a relaxed creative pursuit like drawing, a small routine before bed will prepare your mind for rest. By taking your focus off the day’s stresses and sleep, as well as helping to put your mind in a familiar pre-sleep routine should help you to naturally switch off before sleep. Not only this but journaling will also help serve as a captivating diary of your travels and plans.

2. Mindful Practices for Calm Sleep

 Incorporate mindfulness techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and stretching into your daily routine. A quick Youtube search for ‘15 minute bedtime yoga’ will bring up many options and following along to one will leave you in a calmer headspace. In a small room? No problem - there are many guided flows designed to be done while sat on the bed if you have limited floor space. These practices work wonders in regulating your nervous system and cultivating a serene mental space, crucial for a good night's sleep on the road.

Man meditates on a boat wearing a Vivida sleep mask

3. Connect with Local Rhythms
Immerse yourself in the local culture and rhythms. Engaging in local customs and traditions can create a sense of belonging, helping you feel more at ease and connected to your surroundings. In addition if you are staying with other people, it can be helpful to adjust to their routine of when to sleep and rise, so that you experience less disturbances as everyone is sleeping at the same time.

4. Podcasts as Tranquil Companions
Listening to podcasts before bed and as you fall asleep can be a great way to distract yourself from background noise, for example while trying to sleep on a plane. Seek out podcasts that feel familiar and gentle to listen to, steering clear of overly exciting or loud content. Nature podcasts, or specially curated sleepcasts on platforms like YouTube, Spotify, or Headspace, provide soothing narratives with detailed descriptions designed to ease you into a restful slumber. I particularly like listening to 'The Almanac of Ireland’ on Spotify and Headspace Sleepcasts. 

5. Choose Your Sleeping Sanctuary Wisely
Now this one is coming from experience… opt for accommodation that aligns with your comfort preferences and personality if possible. If you're not a party animal, consider avoiding hostel dorm rooms. Luxury isn't the only option; you might find joy in camping or staying in a local B&B with a friendly host offering valuable tips about the area. I made the mistake of booking a hostel in Porto, Portugal in a party area and didn’t sleep for three nights! 

A couple sleeps in a ship cabin wearing Vivida eye masks

6. Block Out Disturbances
A super important point with an easy solution, if you’re getting woken up frequently you won’t feel well rested. Minimise disruptions with essential sleep aids like earplugs and an eye mask – I always have both in my backpack! Embrace the power of these simple tools to create a cocoon of tranquillity, shielding yourself from external chaos. 

7. Bring Comfort to Unfamiliar Spaces
Recognize that not every place you sleep will be inherently comfortable and cozy. Pack personal items like comfy clothes, neck pillow, regular pillow, pillow spray, blanket, or even orange fabric (a scarf works great) to drape over hash white lights before bed. Make sure you don’t do this over a bulb which will overheat though! This will help to infuse familiar coziness into any sleeping arrangement.

8. Harmony with Nature's Rhythms
Sync your sleep cycle with nature's by winding down with the sunset if you can. Embrace the tranquil moments as daylight fades, signalling to your body that it's time to prepare for rest. If you're crossing time zones, adapt your sleep schedule gradually. Spend time outdoors in natural light to reset your circadian rhythm, helping your body adjust to the new time zone more smoothly.


9. Embrace Natural Sleep Aids
Experiment with natural sleep aids like chamomile tea, valerian root, lavender essential oil, or magnesium supplements. These gentle remedies can promote relaxation and improve the quality of your sleep.


10. Unload Mental Baggage
Before succumbing to sleep, unload your mind by jotting down any worries or pending tasks. This simple act of transferring your thoughts onto paper can free your mind from unnecessary burdens, allowing for a more peaceful slumber. If you’re already journaling before bed, you can use that time to write your to-do list for the next day too. 


A nap spot on the brow of a boat

Conclusion: Practice Rituals of Home Wherever You Go
With these mindful strategies, you can transform your sleep routine into an enjoyable part of your travel experience. By blending the familiarity of home rituals with the adaptability needed on the road, you'll unlock the key to a restful night’s sleep, wherever your adventures take you. Sweet dreams, fellow wanderer!

Han Fisher is a Cornish native, a multi-media creative, sustainable product designer and adventure sports enthusiast. She believes in promoting connection with the outdoors and protecting natural eco-systems. She is also a SUP and Snowboard instructor, Wild Swimmer, Horse Rider, Sailor and Motorcyclist. Han believes in sharing uplifting stories of people and the outdoors wherever possible.
Photography and adventures at: Over Land And Sea 
IG @hancfisher
TikTok @overland.andsea