There are a number of strategies we can employ in an effort diminish the size of these obstacles.
1) Eat on local time. Before you even begin your travel (starting the day of your outbound flight or drive), begin eating according to the time where your event will occur. If you're traveling west, wait until 10am to eat breakfast and have your first cup of coffee. This can have an effect on your blood sugar levels that your body will react to. You'll be hungry for dinner on "local" time, and the duration between the last meal and sleep will be close to normal.
2) Start "thinking" according the time where your event will occur. Setting your watch to the time where your event will take place as soon as you sit down on the plane can help have your brain thinking in line with your new time zone. And look at the clock more frequently once you arrive. Your subconscious is going to think according to time back home, so offset that with conscious awareness of the current time.
3) Stay in a consistent hotel. Choosing one hotel chain that you stay in regardless of the city will help you feel more at home when you are on the road. A hotel like Hampton Inn is very consistent regardless of where you are in the country--often down to the floor plan, and certainly including the decor and room layout. This will help offset your body's instincts to keep you on edge when you lay down for the night.
4) Bring your own pillow case. One way to make your body feel more at home is to have your own pillow or pillow case under your head. Smells do an excellent job of recalling memory, and having the smell of your own bedroom will certainly help to put your mind at ease. If you have a pillow you like to sleep with at home, bring it if you can. The increased comfort and muscle memory will help you sleep more deeply.
5) Boost your chemistry with a supplement. I'm typically not a huge advocate of supplements, but choosing a product like Hammer Nutrition's REM Caps is a safe and reasonable way to help offset obstacles to a sound night of sleep. Hammer participates with Informed Choice, and organization dedicated to vetting the quality and legality of supplements. REM Caps in particular are a safe way to enhance melatonin in your body. Melatonin is a hormore that our body secretes when it is time to wind down. By supplementing at the right time, we can start to help our bopdy understand when we should be falling asleep.
For any endurance athlete, progressing through the sport and competing at the highest level requires increased focus on a wider variety of variables. As obstacles to success increase, our attention to detail must as well. Finding solutions and strategies that are simple to employ are key. Creating plans for offsetting the increasing hurdles in all performance domains will give your the marginal edge needed to perform at your best and defeat fierce competition. Quality sleep has a profound impact on performance, and cannot be overlooked.