How to Get Vacation Sleep At Home
One obvious reason you sleep so well on vacation: You don't have a care in the world. Snooze better—after your getaway—by being more mindful.
Check Your Diet: "Many people don't make the connection that when they're on vacation, they're probably not relying as much on caffeine—there's no late afternoon meeting to power through," says Cleveland Clinic wellness manager Kristin Kirkpatrick, who recommends having your last cup of coffee no later than 2 P.M. to avoid late-night jitters. And while few of us eat healthier while traveling, Kirkpatrick points out that there's usually not as much stress eating going on: You're less likely to raid the minibar for a midnight nip or feel the need to reward yourself at the end of the day with a pint of Rocky Road. Fatty foods and alcohol can trigger digestive troubles like acid reflux that can keep you up at night.
Take A Breather: "Many of us tend to think that sleep is the only type of rest we need, but fitting in 'active rest,' as one sleep specialist calls it, during your waking hours can help you at night," says Phillips. "There's social rest—spending time with people who are supportive and fun; spiritual rest, which is just contemplative thought; and physical rest, like lying on a beach or focusing on your breathing. We end up doing a lot more of these on vacation, but fitting bits of them into our day-to-day lives has been shown to stave off feelings of depletion and help our nervous system work optimally." Phillips tries to stop every hour to take a dozen deep breaths, scanning her body for areas of tension and consciously relaxing them, but you can also hold a few yoga poses, call a friend, or just sip a cup of tea.
Blur The Line: On vacation, you're far less likely to engage in anything mentally taxing before bed. The same should apply at home. "It's helpful to create a buffer zone between day and night so you can ease into sleep," says Jennifer Martin, PhD, a Los Angeles–based clinical psychologist and behavioral sleep medicine specialist. "For most people, the brain isn't a switch that you can instantly shut off." Rather than scrambling to answer a few more emails, do whatever you find relaxing for at least 30 minutes before lights-out.
Use Your Imagination: The next best thing to going on vacation may be just dreaming about it. In a University of Oxford study, people fell asleep, on average, 20 minutes sooner when they imagined a relaxing scene. Picture your last getaway or an upcoming trip and allow your mind to drift off. Sweet dreams!