If you suffer with poor sleep, it is no excuse just to stay at home, and surround yourself with stiff routines and good-old-stuff. The moment sensitive sleepers start living like prisoners in their own homes, is the moment insomnia has won, not just a battle, but a war. Home becomes your cage. If we want to heal and give the crap to the insomnia, we first have to start living like sound sleepers. Meaning, living a normal life. Whatever that means to everyone, but it sure doesn’t mean life in a gated one-home community.
Holidays are just so good. In fact they make us feel so good that I recall reading a survey recently where ~50 year old people said that the biggest regret of their lives was that they didn’t travel and holiday enough! Personally I love holidays because I then take distance to various stuff on my desk and in my head. After a restful holiday I am always much wiser and more aware of my life and work priorities. Also, the distance tends to make my earlier huge looking problems just pretty standard life encounters. Needless to say that I also love the sun, the sea, the sand, the ready-made meals, the napping (on-off all days!), the smiley faces and so on. Whenever our budget allows, we book a holiday. So how to do it correctly when there are lurking sleep problems, especially in the strange, new environments. Here is a collection of my key learnings.
Holidaying with insomnia. This is how to do it right. Top 6 tips:
1. Book a hotel with carpets. This is a big deal. If a hotel has stone floors and the cleaning and vacuuming starts at 0700 even the very best ear plugs won’t help. Even worse, when new arrivals/departures with screeching trunks take shift at 4 am it’s far from fun. Just believe me, this doesn’t work even at the very best 5* luxury hotels.
2. Right after your travel booking send an email to your hotel’s customer service. Be the first one to reserve the most silent room for your money. Be friendly yet firm. Then they know you belong to the category of ‘somewhat a difficult and demanding customer to be served with urgency’ and they will earmark the best room for you. Works every time. I also sometimes double-check this one or two days beforehand and just make sure that my request has been executed. Then they really know this is serious business to me.
3. Book a day flight, even if it costs a bit more. This part is worth every penny. And the earlier you plan your trip, the cheaper you get it. A day flight means no big disruption to your circadian cycle. If you travel across several time zones and during night time the whole sleep-wake cycle can go so wrong that the whole holiday is just dozing around like a zombie. If I travel for one week, I typically stay nearby (Europe), fly during the daytime and make all the travel arrangements myself so I get exactly what I want.
4. Sun is good for your sleep-awake cycle, especially the morning sun. I love going for a walk or jog right after breakfast. Nothing beats that little endorphin oomph that lasts practically the whole day. And what’s better, then I can goof around loosely the rest of the day with clear conscious. Check that your holiday destination has boulevards for nice walks and jogs.
5. For once in your life just let go. Sensitive sleepers are often very dutiful people who make endless to-do lists, punish themselves for being unproductive, demand too much from their loved ones (and, goes without saying, from themselves) and just see their lives as an endless battlefield. Holiday is time to switch off, so just do that. And perhaps some nice stuff like napping (10 naps/day allowed), lazy golf and restorative yoga on the green. Forget your smart phone in the hotel room. And if you want that one sangria (too many) just have it. Nap more next day. Just be irresponsible a tiny wee bit! Believe me, experience talks. This loose attitude does helps to take distance to insomnia and put it into perspective.
6. Leave insomnia home: Bye bye and so long! Make a conscious decision not to worry about your sleep problems during the holiday. If you can’t sleep at night – so what? Change your plans for the next day, stay on the beach and just nap through the day. Worries about sleep keep the insomnia alive. The minute we don’t think about it (like sound sleepers don’t) we relax and sleep better. Train your mind to think differently about your sleep during the next holiday and you might have something precious to bring back home.
Writing this post really made me aware of not having a holiday booked. I need one desperately - please give some tips! What is y0ur favourite holiday destination? Are you good at letting-go in your holidays or do you start worrying the evident return days before?