From unfamiliar environments to irregular bedtimes and not to mention, jet lag, your sleep can be interrupted in many ways when you’re on holiday and away from your own bed. Even though some of us sleep better when we’re in a different bed; some of us can’t sleep on holiday. Lets’ dive into the different causes that might be ruining your sleep and how to make sure you enjoy your summer break without compromising your sleep.
The stress of packaging and planning for your holidays
Before going on holiday, the stress of planning everything and having to pack might be already something affecting your sleep. Thankfully, your are still at home, so you can still be in control on how to manage the situation. The best advice here given by the Sleep Charity is planning ahead. One week prior to the trip start the packing process and make a list of last minute items to add to your bag, e.g. phone chargers. In this way, you ensure a smooth process in which you are guarantee not to forget anything
Another important habit to be mindful of is to make sure you try get a good night’s sleep by winding down properly the night before your trip, switching off gadgets and avoiding caffeine and alcohol.
The first night away on holiday
If you've ever spent a night sleeping away from home, you may understand the concept of the "first-night effect." It refers to the difficulty many people face when trying to sleep in an unfamiliar place for the first time. Falling asleep can be a real challenge as even the slightest disturbances can wake you up, and getting back to sleep becomes difficult too. This phenomenon called first-night effect is recognised by sleep science researchers, who understand that our brains remain vigilant throughout the night, subconsciously watching out for potential dangers.
If you're planning to go on holiday away from home, be aware that you might experience the first-night effect.
The NHS defines Jet lag as “Jet lag is when your normal sleep pattern is disturbed after a long flight. It usually improves within a few days as your body adjusts to the new time zone.”
Even though, Jet lag cannot be entirely avoided there are strategies to mitigate its impact. Here we list a few:
- Prioritise getting sufficient rest before your travel. You can do this by gradually adjusting your sleep schedule in a way that you are going to bed and waking up either earlier or later, aligning it more closely with the time zone of your travel destination.
- Before your flight, make sure you consume three well-balanced meals.
- During the flight, adjust your watch to the local time of your destination.
- Don't forget to bring an eye mask and earplugs. Use the eye mask and your seat's nightlight to reflect the time at your destination. Wear the mask if it's night time at your destination, and keep the light on and mask off if it's daytime.
- Stay hydrated throughout the flight by drinking plenty of water and avoid consuming alcohol.
- Engage in regular walks up and down the aisle, and try some simple stretching exercises in your seat like straightening your legs and pointing and flexing your toes.
- Upon arriving at your destination, use your diet to help regulate your wakefulness. High-protein meals can increase alertness, while high-carbohydrate meals may induce sleepiness.
- To reset your internal clock, take an early morning walk when you wake up in your new destination, and spend as much time outdoors in daylight as possible.