While you might have established a good bedtime routine and bedroom environment at home, your sleep hygiene can be easily disrupted when on vacation. There are many factors outside your control that can easily disrupt your sleep on vacation—from noisy neighbors and traffic to unexpected lights and early sunrises disturbing your morning slumber.
As with most things in life, the key to preventing sleep disruption on vacation is to be prepared. Here are tips for using technology to sleep well and maintain your well-being on your next vacation.
Bring Your Bedtime Routine on Vacation With You
While late nights and morning lay-ins seem attractive during vacation, straying from your usual bedtime routine can impact your sleep and general well-being.
Having a bedtime routine is essential because your body has an internal clock (the circadian rhythm) that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. When disrupted, your sleep quality can diminish. A study published in Canadian Science Publishing explains that later sleep timing and greater variability in your sleep are related to adverse health outcomes.
Keeping (or establishing) a bedtime routine can help you sleep well on vacation in several ways:
- Maintain sleep quality. Keeping your circadian rhythm happy with your familiar bedtime routine will help you fall and stay asleep on vacation. The Sleep Foundation points out that having a bedtime routine can also help your brain distinguish between day and night while reducing stress and aiding peaceful sleep.
- Adjust to your new environment quickly. The human body likes consistency and routine—factors that are often left at home when you go on vacation. Establishing a bedtime routine will help create a sense of familiarity and help you and your body adjust to your new, unfamiliar environment quicker.
- Reduce jetlag. If you’ve traveled long-haul, maintaining a bedtime routine can help your circadian rhythm adjust more efficiently to your new time zone.
- Improve energy. The last thing you want to feel on vacation is sluggish, and having a bedtime routine can improve your sleep—meaning you’ll feel more energetic during the day.
If you don’t use one already, trying a sleep tracker app can help improve your sleep on vacation. Both Android and iOS operating systems offer free sleep-tracking functions in their respective native health apps.
Alternatively, you could try Sleep Cycle—an app designed to analyze your sleep and wake you up gently come morning. You can establish your sleep goal, pick a sound to wake up to, and set a wake-up phase to allow you the time you need to get up on vacation.
Adapt Your Bedtime Routine to Match Vacation Daylight Hours
A new environment on vacation can offer different daylight hours. If your holiday destination is in a sunny clime, you may find the sun is rising much earlier (and probably setting later) than you’re used to at home.
If you want to sleep well on vacation but the sun (and possibly active locals) is rousing you before you’ve had enough pillow time, it could be worth adjusting your sleep hours to match the sunrise.
You can establish what time the sun sets and rises using a variety of tools:
- Weather apps. Installing an app like the Met Office Weather App on your smartphone can give you quick access to sunrise and sunset times on your phone. You can either manually search for your current location or enable location services to automatically detect your vacation location and see the sun’s position.
- Smartwatch features. Many smartwatches (including Apple Watch, Garmin, Samsung Galaxy, and Fitbit) offer functionality to display sunrise and sunset times on customizable faces.
- Websites. Websites such as Time and Date and BBC Weather can provide sunrise and sunset times along with other useful local information.
Adapting your bedtime routine so that you gain enough sleep and wake with the sunrise can give you unexpected benefits. Firstly, how often do you see the sunrise? Getting sunlight on your face as soon as you wake can also help boost your energy naturally and kickstart your all-important circadian rhythm.
Secondly, in some hot countries locals often rise with the sun and activities can begin to occur early morning before temperatures get too fierce to go outside. Rather than letting the sun and activity noises wake you, adjust your bedtime routine to match the sunrise and sleep better on vacation.
Try a Smart Sleep Mask to Block Out Unexpected Light on Vacation
If you’d still rather sleep in past an early sunrise (you are on holiday after all), then try wearing a smart sleeping mask to prevent light from waking you and help you sleep well on vacation.
Disruptive lights to your sleep aren’t just limited to the sun—if your holiday home has gadgets in the bedroom that emit blue or infrared lights on standby, you could be at risk of a disruptive night’s sleep.
Not only can sleep masks block unwanted light, but they can help keep your eyes protected and moist (ideal if you have an environment-drying air con unit going). While basic sleep masks are essentially a piece of soft fabric that wraps around your eyes, smart sleep masks offer additional functions, including:
- Audio functions. Some smart sleep masks have built-in Bluetooth headphones (ergonomically designed for comfort) so you can listen to soundtracks, audiobooks, or sleep playlists to help you drift off peacefully.
- Light therapy. Instead of an alarm, some high-end smart sleep masks emit gentle light to trigger a natural waking response—just like the sunrise.
- Weight. Some smart sleep masks work like weighted blankets for your eyes, providing an additional calming feature.
If you want to sleep well on vacation and block out disruptive light, it might be worth investing in a sleep mask. If you’re unsure whether you need one, read our advice on whether you should upgrade to a smart sleeping mask to help.
Block Out Unwanted Vacation Noise With Ear Plugs and Soundscapes
From late-night stragglers to early-morning go-getters, plenty of noises can disrupt your sleep on vacation. If you’re in a hot climate, having the aircon pumping can cause a night-long noise disruption too.
If your want to sleep well on vacation, plugging into a soothing white noise app, listening to a gentle sleep playlist, or playing an audiobook can help you fall asleep.
Picking the right headphones and earbuds that are designed for sleeping is also important. These accessories omit unnecessary features and offer functions that can help you sleep well on vacation, including noise cancelation, ergonomic design for comfort in bed, and easy touch controls.
To find your perfect sleep sounds, Spotify is a great place to start. You’ll find a range of sleep playlists and podcasts to help you fall asleep faster with Spotify, which is available on most devices.
Soothe Vacation Anxiety With Meditation
If there’s one thing that can prevent you from sleeping well on vacation, it’s anxiety. According to PubMed Central, anxiety can cause sleep disturbances—particularly insomnia—which isn’t what you want on your holiday.
Travel anxiety is common and can be caused by a range of reasons, from worrying about various aspects of your trip (including your health and safety) to uncertainty about what to expect from a new location. On top of this, late-night noises, busy locations, and language barriers can add to anxiety momentum.
To help combat travel anxiety, take a meditation app with you. Headspace is renowned for its ability to help users address stress and anxiety. Learn how to make the most of Headspace in our beginner’s guide.
You Can Sleep Well on Vacation With a Little Tech Help
Being prepared always pays off, and when it comes to sleeping well on vacation, you want to be well-equipped. If you can, initiate a bedtime routine before jetting off on your travels to establish a good sleep cycle. Monitoring your sleep and making adjustments to improve your time spent in bed can also prime you for a good sleep on vacation.