far and wide

28 Sleeping Hacks From Salma Hayek and Other Frequent Travelers

Photo: Getty Images

Even internationally recognized film stars have trouble sleeping. “I have lots of tricks to sleep well,” Hayek told me at a recent press event. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a celebrity makeup artist, or a regular person who is just plain busy, sleep is one of the few things money can’t buy (not that people haven’t tried, though). The Cut talked to frequent travelers including Hayek, a Victoria’s Secret Angel, and stylist Tina Leung to find out their best hacks for fighting jet lag and defeating insomnia.

Salma Hayek, Founder of Nuance by Salma Hayek

I drink this calcium magnesium drink. It helps me. It also helps you go to the bathroom. You sleep well and you hmm hmm well.

Lais Ribeiro, Victoria's Secret Angel

I’m lucky, I can sleep anywhere in any position. But no matter where I am, I always bring my eye mask. And when I check in, I request a room with a bathtub. A 20-minute bath before going to bed always helps.

Charlotte Cho, Founder of Soko Glam

I’m constantly traveling from New York to Korea (I’ve been twice in the past 30 days!), and I’ve become quite the expert in battling jet lag. After a 14-hour flight, I land in Seoul around 5 p.m. Even though I’m tired from the flight, I force myself to get dinner and drinks with colleagues. I know that staying up will ensure that I am tired enough to sleep through the night. Then I wake up energized at 6 a.m, ready to start my day.

l’ll still definitely be tired around noon, but I make sure to power through without taking a nap. If I keep this up for two days straight, I’m usually adjusted by the third day. I’m never out of caffeine options in Seoul, but I usually opt for a matcha latte instead of an Americano because it gives me a more gradual caffeine boost and has body-benefiting antioxidants in the cup. It also leads to less coffee breath!

For actually sleeping, the right pillow is crucial. My neck feels very strained throughout the night if I sleep with a pillow that is too high. I ask the hotel to send me a softer, thinner pillow, or I bring my own, like the Ikea Knavel Goose Down Pillow. It’s filled with goose and duck down and feathers, so it supports my head while relieving the pressure on my shoulder and neck.

I must change into comfortable pajamas and do my full skin-care routine to feel comfortable and ready for bed. I cannot sleep without removing my makeup! To feel fully relaxed, I’ll put on a sheet mask like the Manefit Lily Brightening Eye Mask for 20 minutes, so I can peel it off and go to sleep right after without going to the bathroom. I like that mask because it’s perfect for tired travel days, and works to de-puff and brighten the skin around my eyes.

Jen Rubio and Steph Korey, co-founders of new suitcase company Away

JR: I can typically fall asleep anywhere as long as it’s dark, so I always travel with a silk eye mask. The one from Slip is my favorite. When I need a little help falling asleep, I mix some Moon Juice Dream Dust (a mix of herbs to help you doze off) in mint tea or some warm almond milk.

When I get in the hotel room and am ready to sleep, I always close all the curtains and make sure the bedside alarm clock isn’t set for some weird time. I’ve had too many bad experiences where the person staying in a room before me had the alarm go off at 4 a.m., and it totally threw me off my game.

Don’t fight insomnia. If you can’t sleep, turn on the light, get out of bed and read or write in a comfy spot. Get back into bed when you feel tired. Even though it’s a hard rule to follow, using your bed only for sleeping is a super important way to get your routine back on track.

The cure for jet lag is to not care! But for the more practical people out there: Take melatonin the day of travel at what would be night in your destination time zone. So, if you’re going from New York to Paris, around 4 p.m. Then take it around 10 p.m. the first night or two in the destination, stop, then reverse the process a day before you head back.

SK: I don’t travel anywhere without a set of Sleepy Jones pajamas. There’s something so luxurious about having a nice, crisp set of pj’s with you — when I put them on, I go into the mindset of: “Okay, now it’s time to chill out.”

I don’t often get to do it at home, but I also love taking baths before bed when I’m at a hotel. CAP Beauty makes great bath salts that smell awesome and are really easy to travel with and it’s my nighttime routine to get a good night’s sleep.

If you’re flying across time zones, as soon as you arrive at your departure airport, mentally shift to the time at your destination. If it’s daytime there make sure you have energizing activities for your flight; if it’s nighttime there, begin the rituals that will help you relax and sleep on the flight.

My best piece of sleep advice is to dim the lights and light a nice candle (I love Byredo Bibliotheque) an hour or so before getting into bed.

Also, if you’re like me and always have your iPhone in hand, at least turn on Night Shift to block the blue light.

Nina Faulhaber, Co-Founder of ADAY

When I travel, I always bring a mini journal with me to write down any thoughts that I can’t let go of, and I also use it to record my dreams right when I wake up in the morning. I also love Ritual supplements when traveling, as they’re so easy to pack and they provide me with a lot of the vitamins and nutrients I need to get through day and night.

To ensure I get a good night’s sleep, my nighttime routine is to read a few pages on Kindle, but I make sure to enable the iPhone nighttime setting. I’m currently reading The Untethered Soul. I also don’t go to bed without moisturizer on my face. I use Philosophy Hope in a Jar.

I swear by natural sleeping pills when traveling. Just restrict your consumption to nights on the plane and every other hotel night. I like melatonin (any brand) or my friend Josh’s natural Immortal Sleep pills, which feel a lot softer on my body. I’m also currently testing Dream Water; it’s supposed to be gentle as well.

To sleep well, it’s most important to understand yourself and what you need. I really enjoy understanding my sleep cycles — it helped me increase the number of hours of sleep I get each night. We go through a number of sleep cycles consisting of light sleep, deep sleep, and dream (REM) phases each night, and each cycle consists of about one-and-a-half hours. I’m most tired when I wake up in the middle of a deep sleep or REM sleep phase, and I’ve found that I function best after either about six hours or about seven-and-a-half hours of sleep. I also love waking up after seven hours, as that way I catch myself still dreaming.

My strategy for jet lag is to softly accept it and never ever think about the other time zone. Schedule a light evening activity like a dinner or a workout and go to bed on the earlier side, but at a local time, especially after a red-eye flight.

Tina Leung, Stylist

I don’t know if it actually helps me, but I always bring my stuffed mermaid, Juanita, who even has her own Instagram account, wherever I go. It’s always nice having her to hug me to sleep.

I also bring a small bottle of This Works Deep Sleep pillow spray that I spritz on Juanita or hotel-room pillows before bed.

Before I go to bed, I love soaking in a nice hot bath with Dr Teals Epsom Salt Foaming Bath oils. The number of bubbles you get from just pouring a little bit is insane. Then if I have time, I like watching a TV show in bed right before sleeping to turn off my brain.

When I need to wake up during Fashion Weeks, I have a strategy. I have two wake-up calls and during the second one, I ask them to wake me with a cappuccino at the door, so that I’m forced to get up out of my bed.

I don’t think I really even have jet lag anymore. I just have lots of times where I’m tired. For insomnia, the worst thing is to just stay in bed when you can’t sleep. I get up and read a little or watch some TV to get myself tired. I also use this Sleep Cycle app sometimes if I don’t have to be super strict with what time I wake up, as it helps you wake up when you’re sleeping at your lightest.

Daniel Martin, Celebrity Makeup Artist

This cough syrup is my favorite and you can find it in any French pharmacy. I always buy a bottle when I’m in France. It tastes like crème brûlée and it has codeine in it. I take it to sleep and get myself back on track from jet lag.

Vicky Tsai, Founder of Tatcha

I need total darkness and quiet to sleep on a plane or at odd hours, so I always bring a silk eye mask that we made with an artisan in Japan and ear plugs. For the hotel room, I always travel with a silk pillowcase; otherwise the scratchy hotel pillows give me rashes. In a big city, I request the highest floor available to get away from street noise. I also ask for a room away from the elevator bank and maids’ closet so that it’s as quiet as possible.

My greatest impediment to sleep is having too much on my mind. Taking a hot shower before bed helps. I also wash my face at the end of the day, to signal to my brain that the day is over and it’s time to rest. Our Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil helps to melt away the day. The ritual of putting on skin care, the massage, and the scent help me get my mind to a place of calm. Lastly, I always sing goodnight to my daughter, Alea, no matter where I am in the world. Even if one of us is in a frenzy, it never fails to calm us down.

The sleep advice I’ve found that has worked most is to be consistent. No matter what country I’m in, whether it’s a weekday or weekend, I go to sleep and wake up at the same time. When I travel for work, I don’t usually have time to adjust to time zones. Unisom is the only non-habit-forming sleep aid that I know of, so I’ll sometimes take half a tablet with dinner. For me, the biggest benefit of vacation is getting back to a natural rhythm. I try to be outside and active during the day as much as possible and avoid using any sleep aids to fall asleep. I do still try to keep my hours consistent, going to bed around 8:30 p.m. and getting up at 5 a.m.

28 Sleeping Hacks From Salma Hayek and Other Travelers