When we think holidays, we think the perfect time to relax and catch up on sleep. But unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes we are left feeling more exhausted then before! It is actually fairly common to develop sleeping problems during or after a holiday period.
I’m sure a lot of us can relate to this; after a long day of travelling all you want to do is flop into bed. But often, despite being exhausted, you find it hard to drift off. You might manage to get some sleep but are still left feeling groggy and grumpy the next day. This is referred to as “first night effect”. When sleeping in an unfamiliar place, the left side of the brain is on high alert for “danger” without us even realising it. This can mean although you might be sleeping, your brain is on “watch” and not getting restful and restorative sleep.
But even then, after that initial first night, some of us are still struggling to sleep. Besides the obvious jet lag, there are a few reasons why you might be left yawing and struggling to keep your eyes open.
Drinking alcohol – Who doesn’t love a good cocktail or beer by the pool! Or a wine (or two) with dinner! Alcohol consumption big or small can play a role in fragmented sleep, with side effects being daytime tiredness and poor functioning. Alcohol not only hinders our sleep but also makes us feel sleepy.
Overeating – I don’t know about you but when I’m on holidays the consumption of food has no limit because holiday calories don’t count right? But this can also affect our sleep as the types of foods we consume are often high in sugar (and delicious, might I add). But the downside of this is we are compromising our sleep. It is also said that after a meal our stomach can take up to three hours to empty, with some foods and drinks taking even longer. By eating too much in the evening our bodies spend a huge amount of the night actively breaking down our holiday dinner instead of recharging like they need to. Neither a full nor empty stomach is good. We suggest avoiding eating 2-3 hours before bed.
Napping – Napping and holidays go hand in hand. Big lunch, a few cocktails, hanging by the pool, and now it’s time for an afternoon siesta. But after a nap as short as 30-minutes alertness and performance actually declines. Even longer naps can make a person feel groggy for the rest of the day. It can also result in not being able to fall asleep when it comes time, as you’ve napped throughout the day. It's best to keep any napping in the day to no more than 20 minutes, so make sure you set that alarm! Your body will thank you later!
Sleep environment - Your sleep environment is another factor that affects your sleep while on holidays. Depending on where you holiday of course, but we often turn the air-conditioning really high or low and snuggle into bed. The ideal temperature to sleep in is 16-18°C. Your body heat peaks in the evening then drops down when you’re sleeping meaning temperatures over 24°C are likely to cause restlessness, while a cold room of about 12°C will make it difficult to nod off. With holidaying comes noise, be that loud music or kids who’ve eaten too much sugar and are running around like crazy. When already in a new environment, adding to that factors like temperature, noise and bad lighting and getting that good night’s sleep you so desperately crave after a long day can seem near impossible. We know some of these things are hard to avoid… but we can suggest trying to minimise noise with earplugs and close the blinds to eliminate any ambient light where possible.
Simple tips to help improve your sleep while on holidays;
Stick to your usual sleep routine
Avoid eating within 2-3 hours before bedtime
Avoid alcohol and caffeine
Exercise during the day
Check your room temperate
Bring earplugs and eye mask
No naps longer then 20 minutes and no later than 3 o’clock
Too much sleep - not enough! It can be hard to get sleep just right, but we hope you now have a little more knowledge on why your good sleep wish list might not be granted and hopefully can implement these tips on your next holiday!