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Sleep your way to a relaxing summer holiday

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After long hours at work, packing lunches and getting the kids ready for school every day, spending hours at your children’s sport practices (sometimes in the rain), making dinner, and sometimes crashing on the couch at night, you deserve a relaxing summer holiday! However, you do not want to return from your holiday tired enough to need another vacation. Some holiday trips can be draining, but here are some tips to make the most of your summer vacation, without exhausting yourself, and ensure you get the rest you need.

Prepare for your summer holiday in advance. Whenever you find 5 minutes, here and there, start making a list of everything you need to pack. Set out a suitcase a week before your trip and start gradually packing. This will get you excited for your trip and will help you avoid the last-minute, stay up late (or all night) packing frenzy! This will also help you decide ahead of time which outfits you want to wear, and will help you avoid packing your entire closet for just a 5-7 day-trip. In particular, make sure to get plenty of rest the night before your trip, which will help you avoid starting your trip already needing to catch up on sleep. The night before your trip, think of it like an important business meeting or presentation that you want to be well-rested for and well-prepared. This will help you to better manage stress while traveling.

Pack some sleeping essentials. For long international flights, make sure to pack a comfortable neck pillow and sweater or blanket (in case it is too cold). Neck pillows are a great way to get a few hours of rest during flights. You can even buy a spandex headband (~24 inches long) used to absorb sweat while exercising, and tie it around the head rest, so that it loosely fits around your forehead to prevent your head from falling from side-to-side during the flight. This headband along with the neck pillow should make you cozy enough to be able to rest during part of your flight. Airline pilots have invented a similar eye-mask headband that wraps around the back of the seat to hold the head still during sleep for flights. Pack ear-plugs or headphones to diminish the noise around you on the flight. Wear an eye mask during flights or in hotel rooms to diminish sunlight and other ambient light. If you typically do not sleep well when you are away from home, consider packing your own pillow or pillowcase. The scent and texture of your home pillowcase might ease you into sleep better while traveling. Lavender is a soothing scent, and is suggested to aid in sleep; so, get a small tube of lavender lotion and apply to your hands and neck just before sleep, while on vacation, to aid your sleep.

Try not to disrupt your day/night schedule, even while on vacation. Staying up too late at night will shift your circadian rhythm, and it will be harder to awaken the next morning and even harder to go to sleep at a decent hour the following night.

In order to beat the heat, remember to drink plenty of fluids during the day, use cotton sheets, and turn on a room fan or air-conditioning (if needed). Loose fitting clothes help you stay cool while sleeping. If you are too warm, then consider sleeping naked; studies have shown that there are a number of health benefits to sleeping nude. A warm shower before bed will help your body feel cool, once you step out of the shower, and relax your body for sleep. Warm showers before sleep also help relax body muscles and help reduce muscle cramps. Massage your feet for 1-2 minutes before bed to help you relax.

Keep the room as dark as possible. If a child or relative insists upon a night-light being on inside the room, then wear an eye-mask to block out the light.

If you suffer from allergies, remember to keep windows closed in the car and home (hotels), and instead use the air-conditioning. Also, it is important to shower before going to sleep, to remove the pollen that has landed on you. Summer is not as bad as spring, for allergies, but there are still plenty of blossoming plants.

Most importantly for sleep during your vacation is to try to stay relaxed and calm. Stress always negates sleep. So, start making a “to-pack” list, several weeks prior to your trip. Start packing at least one week ahead of time, and remember try to make the packing enjoyable – tell yourself “These shoes will look great with this outfit, so I better take this pair of shoes!”. Making a reminder list not only helps you plan what to pack, it also helps you remember those few things that are often overlooked, like the essential swimsuit or sunscreen. Starting to pack early also helps you compact what you are taking or at the very least helps you realize you might need a larger travel bag. Each night/day when you pack, remind yourself that “I am going on vacation! This (15-20 minute packing) is going to be fun!” instead of trudging to the room and saying “Ugh, I have to do some packing tonight.”. If you have children, then make the packing like a game and get them involved. You will start your holiday off on the right foot, if you are rested, enjoyed your packing, and have made plans to ensure you get nice quality sleep during your trip. Bon voyage~

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