Vacations are a time for relaxation, so why can it be so hard to fall asleep? Being in a new environment disrupts your normal sleeping habits, especially when you are without a lot of the things that may help you fall asleep.
The time leading up to your vacation may be extra stressful, as planning and budgeting for the trip can take a lot of time and patience. While it is almost always worth it to enjoy your trip, this stress can often lead to sleepless nights for days or even weeks before the vacation starts. Starting your vacation with a lack of sleep can actually make it harder for you to get restful sleep, not easier. It can also be difficult for bodies to adjust to different elevations, time zones, and forms of travel.
So, how can you help yourself?
The best thing to prepare for is having your environment as close to your normal environment as possible. If you normally use a white noise machine, try to bring it with you. If you normally do deep breathing exercises or meditation before going to bed, make time to do the same on vacation. If you are able to, bring one of your pillows that you normally sleep with. In some cases, it may be helpful to bring earplugs or a sleep mask even if you don’t normally wear them.
Staying hydrated during the day, and making sure to continue to eat regular meals and snacks helps keep your body on the same cycles as usual, even being in a new place. It’s so tempting to use vacation as an excuse to eat unhealthy food and drink more alcohol, but the reality is that it can have much more harmful effects than we intend. Treat yourself on vacation, but do it in moderation! Enjoy some pancakes or waffles with syrup for breakfast, but don’t forget to also grab the cup of fruit as a side. Getting those vitamins can make a huge difference when it comes time to sleep!
Depending on your travel, you may experience jet lag at the beginning of your trip and when you arrive back home. Jet lag most often results in fatigue or fogginess that does not seem to go away even after taking a nap or sleeping at night, but can also cause stomach problems including nausea and indigestion. If you plan to travel more than three time zones from your home, consider easing your sleep pattern into the time zone you’re traveling to a few days or a week before the trip if possible.
For those experiencing sleep disorders like sleep apnea, especially those using CPAP or BiPAP devices, make sure to discuss with your doctor any changes in altitude beforehand. Your doctor may also suggest other tips for preparing for getting the best sleep you can while on vacation.