Sun, Sea & Sleep

As we head into summer, many of us will be thinking about jetting off to exciting new destinations. But how do we sleep while we’re away from home?

In this blog article, TEMPUR® looks into sleep tips for travelling and holidaying; from jet lag and travelling accessories, to advice on how to sleep in unfamiliar surroundings, including hotter countries.

Conquering jet lag

For many of us, flying off to warmer climates is the highlight of our summer. However, long- haul travel has its challenges, most notably in the form of jet lag. Caused by the adjustment of the body to new time zones, jet lag can cause daytime fatigue, stomach problems, and low moods. Not ideal when you are trying to make the most of your time away!

If you wish to minimise the effects of jet lag, you may want to take steps to adjust your body clock a few days before you fly. One way to achieve this is to gradually alter your sleeping schedule by going to bed one hour earlier or later than usual each day. A high-quality mattress will help you to get a good night’s sleep before your travels. Setting your watch to your destination’s time zone and scheduling your meal times accordingly may also help you to acclimate more easily once you land.

If your flight takes place during the night time of your destination, it can be beneficial for you to sleep on the aeroplane. Of course, given the lights and the noise on the plane, this is not always easy. Here are some of the best travel accessories to help you minimise disruptions and sleep comfortably on board.

Making the most of travel accessories

Sleeping in-flight is a great way to tackle jet-lag and to boost your immune system. Yet, for even the deepest of sleepers, it can be a challenge to drift off whilst sitting upright in an aeroplane seat. Furthermore, sleeping without adequate support for your head can place stress on the neck muscles and lead to pain upon waking.

One way to ensure a comfortable sleep on board is to invest in a quality neck pillow or travel pillow. These are designed for efficient transportation, so they won’t take up too much of your luggage allowance. Plus, they are equally beneficial in a car if your travels involve any long-distance drives.

Another way to ensure a restful sleep while flying is to minimise distractions on board. This is best achieved by using earplugs to silence noise, and by using a good sleeping mask to block out surrounding light. As a consequence of our evolutionary history, humans are hard-wired to sleep in the dark. In response to total darkness, the brain’s pineal gland produces melatonin, the hormone which makes us tired. A sleeping mask ensures complete darkness, while its padded material gently moulds to your face to ensure maximum comfort.

Sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings

If you find it difficult to sleep on the first night or two of your holiday, you are not alone. Science terms this phenomenon the First Night Effect, and this too dates back to our evolutionary history. When the human brain recognises that we are attempting to sleep in an unfamiliar environment, only half of it will fall into deep sleep. The other half of the brain stays awake, following its evolutionary instinct to protect us from any potential threats to our well-being.

The First Night Effect will naturally diminish on its own. However, there are some steps you can take to encourage deep sleep and maximise your energy in the exciting first days in a new location. As in-flight, a quality sleeping mask and earplugs will minimise distractions and signal to your brain that it is time to rest.

Another important step, especially if you are holidaying in warmer climates, is to control the temperature of your room. Humans are more likely to wake up in temperatures that are too hot or too cold, and we tend to sleep best in temperatures of around 23° C. If you’re experiencing warmer nights than you’re used to on your holiday, adjust the temperature of your bedroom by using air conditioning or by opening a window.

Do you find that your sleep quality improves or declines on holiday? Do you have any innovative tips to cure jetlag? Let us know in the comments below…

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