Finally the time of year has arrived when many of us pack our bags and jet off on summer holidays and exotic travels. It’s the perfect time for unwinding and relieving the stress of day-to-day life. Yet with a recent study showing that travellers often lose over eight hours of sleep by the time they have returned home, holidays are not the solution to sleep deficit as many of us would believe.
While finding a balance between recuperating and letting one’s hair down can be tricky, here are a few easy ways to top up those hours of shuteye without missing out on revelry.
During the Journey
An aeroplane or train is never going to be the ideal sleeping environment. Whether it’s the back and neck ache from the uncomfortable seats distracting you, or perhaps the noisy passenger seated directly behind, many factors stand in between you and sleep when travelling. But it is possible to make the best of a bad situation. Here’s how:
- Reduce light exposure: any kind of light exposure serves to suppress the production of melatonin, a key hormone which tells the body it’s time to sleep. Whether it’s artificial light or sun shining through the window, it can really inhibit your sleep. Therefore, investing in an eye mask before you leave will help you out in getting in those extra winks.
- Reduce noise: this can be difficult, as you can’t really control those around you. But you can try using ear plugs in order to tackle unwanted noise and distractions.
- Dress comfortably and use a neck pillow: when it comes to sleep, comfort is key. So don’t wear anything that will leave you either cold or overheating, therefore opting for layers is a great option.
Tackling Jet Lag
As regular traveller will know, jet lag can have a profound effect on established sleep wake patterns. Unfortunately, it is an unavoidable experience. However, there are some precautionary things you may do to prevent jet lag seriously disrupting your holiday. These include:
- Making gradual changes to your sleep-wake cycle before you leave can really help. So, if you’re travelling east get up and go to bed earlier, or if you’re travelling west get up and go to bed later. Whilst on the flight try eating and sleeping according to the time zone you are travelling to.
- Avoid napping on arrival. Once in the time zone, stick to it! As hard as it may be to resist slipping in between the sheets as soon as you arrive it will only make things worse. Get outside and embrace the new culture as a distraction and night time will arrive before you know it.
A new sleeping environment
Whether you are casting your net overseas, or crashing at a friends house, sleeping in an unusual environment can unsettle normal sleep patterns. Though some people revel in the comfort of a hotel room, for others it can really play havoc with nightly rest. Here are a few tricks that could help to improve sleep quality in any environment:
- Many hotels will have various pillow types available, so if you’re looking for pressure relief or any other specific need, don’t be shy to ask!
- Limit light and noise pollution through eye masks and ear plugs.
- If the new environment has you tossing and turning then do something that will distract you like reading a book in order to reduce stress and anxiety.
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