26 October 2016Last updated

Features | People

Stress, sleep and holidays

Dubai-based sleep expert offers tips on having a refreshing vacation

18 Jul 2016 | 04:11 pm
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Come holidays and we all see ourselves taking off to scenic places, tropical resorts or even woody cabins in greener pastures. Wherever your holiday destination may be, uprooting yourself from your familiar surroundings and taking time off from routine (even if it is for a couple of days) means tossing the hard earned sleep patterns to the winds.

Sleep expert Dr. Irshaad Ebrahim from The London Sleep Centre Dubai, offers tips on how to have a refreshing vacation:

Stick to sleep routines: We know holidays mean cramming up a lot of action in given days to make the most of time spent there. However, it is advisable that no matter how upbeat you may feel, it helps to stay tuned to your usual sleep-wake timings to avoid a disturbance in your sleep schedules. Of course with party nights calling, it may not always be possible but you can at least try to stick by it, as much as you can.

Tackle jet lag with planning: You probably don’t want a jet lag when on vacation because it’s uncomfortable and causes fatigue. A good way to cope with it is to advance or delay your sleep-wake pattern depending on the direction of your travel, a little ahead of your vacation. This will help the body adjust easily as well as minimize effects of jet lag. Reset your watch to the new time zone as soon as you hop onto the flight. Though this is psychological, it helps in connecting better with the time zone.

Carry your sleep buddies: Make some space in your suitcase for some of your sleep buddies like your comfortable neck pillow and blind. Some kids are used to tugging to a soft toy and dozing off cosily into slumber. It makes sense to lay off a few clothes and carry their favourite toy instead, to help them sleep better. Don’t forget to load that instrumental or any of your ‘wind-me-down’ music on your phone to experience the pleasures of relaxing on vacation. At times your usual music numbers do feel different in different locations because of the state of your mind and you are able to enjoy it just better than ever.

Choose your sleep environment: Pitch-black darkness may be foreign to us by virtue of living in dazzling metropolitans but that’s just another way to ensure sound sleep in new environments. Less lit or dark interiors could help you sleep better than usual. Take advantage of your vacation destination and try sleeping under the moonlit sky and starry night. We bet you will want to do it all nights until you are there!

Check your room temperature: Most of the hotel rooms are chilly and that’s optimal for insomniacs because our body rests best in lower temperatures. It’s a good idea to adjust the air conditioners to suit your comfort levels to sleep better. A quick way to reduce your body heat and adjust to the room temperature is to have a shower right before you go to sleep. A refreshing bath does wonders in rejuvenating you from the day’s hard work and soothing an aching body for a good night’s sleep.

Ditch the tech addiction: A vacation should ideally be a complete holiday from your daily routine which also means leaving behind your go-to gadgets like hand phones, tablets, laptops and the usual. Screen lights disturb sleep and checking your emails definitely doesn’t help in any way to your circadian rhythms. Even watching TV before bedtime is mentally stimulating and could disturb your sleep. It is best to shut off from technology at least an hour before you sleep.

Get enough exercise: You are on vacation we know but no excuses when it comes to exercise. Even 20-30 minutes of workout reduces the time taken to fall asleep and helps you sleep better. There is no need to make time out especially for exercise. Explore your holiday destination on foot whether you do it on a walk or run; or even a splash of swimming fun in the hotel pool or beach will ensure enough exercise whilst enjoying your family time.

If you are serious about a pleasant vacation then sleep should be on your top order of priority in the list. Good sleep will not just allow you a relaxed vacation but will make it worth the trouble of planning one.