In-between getting up early to save your sun lounger, to being the last girl standing at the dodgy nightclub cabaret, it’s little wonder that Brits abroad surveyed by Sunshine.co.uk said they get just 5.1 hours’ sleep a night on holiday.
The best advice is to strike a healthy balance between slow-paced days by the pool and bustling nights at the bar to return home tanned, relaxed and well rested. That may be easier said than done, with round-the-clock cocktails at your bronzed fingertips, and the hustle and bustle of other holidaymakers to contend with.
However, from the moment you step on your plane or cruise ship, to the moment you rock up – suitcase in hand – at your chosen resort in paradise, there’s plenty you can do to maximise your sleep chances. Here’s what our Sleep Experts have to say:
Sleeping on a plane
Whether you’re planning a light doze over European skies, or a full-on snooze marathon as you head to America or Asia, the more room you have to relax and recline, the better sleep quality you’re likely to experience. Splurging on business class – or even first class – seats is well worth it to avoid your neighbour’s wandering elbows or lolling head. If your finances are tighter, choose a window seat towards the back of the plane – away from the hive of activity around cabin crew, and where parents with young children are less likely to sit.
Wear loose, comfortable clothing (except for compression stockings on longer flights to combat Deep Vein Thrombosis) and keep your belt buckle visible to help air stewards complete their important safety checks. Avoid alcohol as much as possible to stay hydrated and turn off the TV. (The light from the screen will make your brain alert.) Relaxing music through noise-cancelling earphones will drown out most intrusive sounds; lastly, use a travel pillow to keep your head and neck comfortably supported.
Sleeping on a cruise ship
Look at your ship’s plan carefully before selecting a cabin. Avoid rooms over or under the lounge or casino, or beneath any decks where a large amount of round-the-clock activity takes place. ‘White space’ on a plan often relates to housekeeping quarters, laundry rooms and crew-only lifts, where there’s likely to be after-hours activity. Forward staterooms on the lower deck are where you’ll hear waves crashing loudly against the ship.
If you suffer from sea sickness, look for staterooms in the lower, centre of the ship. Don’t overestimate the size of your cabin. However flexible the bed configuration may appear to be, if you’re travelling in a party of more than two adults, consider booking separate cabins to avoid cramped and sleepless nights out on the ocean.
Sleeping in a holiday resort
Pool areas, bars, restaurants and the beach are places holidaymakers congregate long after dark. Booking a room that is a little further away from the ‘action’ will help you to get the kind of good-quality sleep that makes a holiday so restorative. In all-inclusive resorts, it’s tempting to load up on snacks and drinks till all hours, but all that food and alcohol is likely to lie heavy on your stomach when it’s time to turn in. Drink your last alcoholic drink three hours before you go to sleep, and keep your night-time snacks light and stimulant-free.
If you’re one of the 57 percent of people who enjoy dozing at the pool or on the beach, make sure you wear sunscreen in a high enough factor for your skin type to prevent waking up burnt to a crisp! Take advantage of the pool or sea for a gentle, relaxing swim, or book yourself in for a massage – the ultimate way to unwind before bed.
If (in spite of all your best efforts) your sleep routine goes awry in the clouds, on the ocean or at the resort – don’t panic. Two-thirds of the way into your break is a good time to start reintroducing a more sensible sleep routine, so you can return home refreshed, relaxed and ready to fall back in love with your own bed again!