If you do a lot of travelling, it’s fair to say you will be familiar with two things, a stiff neck and shoulders and a lack of sleep. I don’t know about you but I always hate to leave my own bed and no matter how comfortable my travel accommodation is, I am always extremely glad to see my own bed again. So how do you get a great night’s sleep on holiday or when you are travelling?
Tips for a great night’s sleep on holiday
1. Use blackout blinds for the kids. You can find portable ones that just attach to the window with sucker-pads.
2. Don’t be afraid to nap – use the power of the siesta. In any case, we should all be staying out of the sun between 12 pm and 3 pm.
3. Make sure you take the kids’ favourite comforters – but don’t lose them. We once had to trek across what seemed like half of Cornwall because Ieuan left ‘blankie’ in Tescos in Truro.
4 If it’s hot you might find it cooler to stay in cotton pyjamas as the cotton will wick away any sweat.
5. You can find lots of tips to help your kids sleep in hot weather in this post.
6. Avoid alcohol and high sugar / high salt foods.
7. Avoid eating too close to sleeping. A light supper is fine – a three-course meal, not so much.
8. Stock up on bottled water but get it free at airports. A trick I read recently from money-saving expert Martin Lewis is to take an empty water bottle through to the departure lounge and fill up with free water from one of the airport water fountains.
9. Carry the kids’ pyjamas in your hand luggage so you don’t have to route through suitcases to find their things. If nothing else we make sure we’ve got the kids’ toothbrushes to hand
10. To avoid jet lag you might be better off staying up until the ‘normal’ bedtime in your new location to allow your body clock to reset
11. Earplugs, eye masks and travel pillows are your friends. A decent travel pillow will help support your neck while you travel and add a comforting touch to your hotel bed.
12. Try a travel pillow which gently supports your head and neck, allowing you to sleep more comfortably when travelling. If you suffer from a bad back, as I do, you can also use a travel pillow for a bit of extra support in the small of the back.
13. Block out the light with a sleep mask. Try one made from silk for extra softness.
In his book “The Fitness Mindset“, health expert and author Brian Keane in his book gives some very helpful advice about improving the quality of our sleep.
If you don’t go to sleep, you’ll get a cortisol (a steroid hormone) driven ‘second wind’ that can keep you awake until 2:00 AM or 3:00 AM. “If you can stick close to your body’s circadian cycle and get to bed before 11:00 PM, you will wake up feeling more rested than if you get the same amount of sleep starting later.
Obviously easier said than done in a different time zone but if you know when you are likely to feel tired you can at least adapt and do something to boost yourself and stave off fatigue.
Secondly, switch off your brain. Journalling, meditation or even just some deep breathing may help. Perhaps you could carry a little travel journal to record your thoughts or write a list of things you are grateful for (being seated together on an EasyJet flight? no airport delays?)!
Travelling, whilst exhilarating, is often stressful and with some careful planning and understanding the needs of your body, you can do a lot to improve the quality of your sleep and rest, even when you’re thousands of miles from home.
If you are planning to travel this summer, particularly with the kids, we’d love to hear your tips.