How to Sleep Better on Vacation

February 15, 2023

How to Sleep Better on Vacation

Vacation is a great joy for many people, but getting to your destination is a different story. Traveling can put significant stress on our minds and bodies, and leave us feeling fatigued and without proper rest. Furthermore, although vacation itself is supposed to be a time of relaxing and unwinding, many of us struggle to get good quality sleep while we travel. Sleeping in new places on new mattresses in different time zones are a few of the factors that negatively impact our sleep during vacation — along with many others.

Poor sleep on vacation can make it harder to enjoy the sights, complete your itinerary, or even just relax on the beach. On the other hand, feeling rested and full of energy allows you to enjoy everything that is available to you to the fullest. In this article, we will explore some of the reasons for bad sleep during vacation, and give you some tips on how to sleep better while you’re away.

Why You don’t Sleep Well on Vacation

In addition to the joys of seeing new things, absorbing new experiences, or simply taking some time to sit back and relax, there are also some obstacles that people encounter on vacation that may make the benefits of vacation more difficult to enjoy due to sleep loss. Getting enough sleep while on vacation will vastly improve your time away, and will allow you to return to your normal routine with great experiences, good memories, and a refreshed mind and body.

What’s Affecting Your Sleep Health on Vacation?

Long Days of Travel

Whether you’re driving or flying to your destination, chances are your vacation destination involves at least two days filled with travel: one day getting to your destination, and one day getting back. Traveling requires long days of driving or sitting in tight spaces on an airplane, and navigating busy roadways, or large airports.

Traveling can put stress on your body or mind, whether you’re rushing to get from point A to point B, or even just sitting in transit. Long days of travel with an anxious and restless mind may make it difficult to sleep and recharge, setting you up for poor sleep for the rest of your vacation.

Travel Fatigue

Long travel days along with many other factors can result in what is known as travel fatigue. Travel fatigue is a result of physical and mental stress due to travel. Causes of travel fatigue include fear of flying, anxiety, stress about your travel and being on time, heavy traffic or flight delays, extended periods of sitting, inability to sleep while traveling, and changes to your diet while traveling.

Travel fatigue is very common, and leaves people feeling restless. Furthermore, travel fatigue can carry over into your vacation, making it harder to rest at night, or stay up during the daytime.

Jet Lag

Jet lag is described as a temporary sleep disorder. When you cross three or more time zones in one day, your body and its internal clock are still in the time zone from which you originated. This can result in you staying up much later, or falling asleep much earlier in your new time zone, along with daytime sleepiness. Jet lag is worse and harder to overcome the more time zones you cross through to your destination. It may also be worse if you travel east. It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to recover from jet lag, and realign your circadian rhythm with that of your local time zone.

When you’re tired during the day, and have trouble sleeping at night due to jet lag, that can result in overall low sleep quality, setting you up to develop a sleep cycle that does not align with your itinerary, and leaves you feeling tired during the day.

Changes in Your Sleep Schedule

If you’ve ever overslept or gone to bed too late one night, you probably understand how difficult it is to get back into your regular sleep schedule. On the other hand, when you fall asleep, and wake up at the same time every day and night, it is easier to stick to your schedule. However, even small changes to your sleep schedule can result in lost sleep.

While you’re on vacation, you may find that you fall asleep and wake up at different times than you’re used to. This can result in sleep disruptions, sleep deprivation, and less restful sleep.

Lifestyle Changes

Your lifestyle directly affects your sleep, and changes to your lifestyle, such as changing your diet and exercise routine, may negatively impact sleep. While you’re on vacation you may take it as an escape from your usual routine. For example, you may skip your daily exercise, and eat bigger meals. However, this can negatively affect your sleep patterns, and make it more difficult to sleep well at night.

Also, you may find yourself drinking more alcohol more often during your vacation. Alcohol can further disrupt your sleep. It may keep you up, or make you fall asleep or nap early, making it harder to develop a healthy bedtime routine on vacation.

New Sleep Settings

If you have trouble sleeping in a new environment, like a hotel room, you are not alone. For many people, the first night is the worst. Sleep studies have concluded that sleep is negatively affected the night before travel, and during the first night of travel.

Although sleep may improve after the first night, this is not true for all people. You may feel uncomfortable in your new setting and on your new mattress and pillows. Plus, differences in noise and light in your new sleep environment may make your sleep even worse.

How to Sleep Better on Vacation

Eliminate Stress Before Travel

As we mentioned above, sleeping may be difficult the night before traveling, in addition to the first night of travel. In order to get better sleep and feel better while you’re traveling, make sure you are fully prepared, everything is planned out, and you’re not rushing the next day to leave on time. Make sure your bags are fully packed, and that your clothes are set out the night before. This will reduce the amount you have to do before you leave the next day, so you aren’t rushing and stressing yourself out.

If you’re traveling with children, double-check that their bags are packed, and they have everything they need, including snacks, water, tickets, passport, etc.

Overcoming Jet Lag

One of the biggest problems with sleeping during vacation is fighting jet lag. Jet lag makes it difficult to get used to the local time zones, and can leave you with poor sleep and fatigue during the day.

The first step toward overcoming jet lag is to try to avoid falling asleep too early or too late. If you must nap during the day, make sure you have an alarm or a family member to wake you up at the right time, so you don’t oversleep. Even if it's difficult, it’s important to try your best to stick to your local time zones. This will make you adjust to the new time faster.

If you’re worried about jet lag, you can try using sleep medicine like melatonin to help you sleep at night. Also, expose yourself to plenty of light in the morning and during the day to keep you awake, and help your internal clock adjust.

Better Sleep in Transit

Some people have no problem sleeping in transit, whether you’re a passenger in a car, bus, train, or plane. However, for many people, this is not the case. If you’re on a long-haul flight, long train ride, or on the road through the night, you may want to sleep, but find it difficult, or impossible. Sleeping for even a few hours can leave you feeling more rested, and can help you stay up later to adjust to your new time zone.

If you want to sleep while you’re in transit, you should consider bringing a sleep kit along with you. This can include items like eye masks, a travel pillow, ear plugs, noise-canceling headphones, and even over-the-counter medication like melatonin for sleep. Using an eye mask will cut out light from your environment, while ear plugs or noise-canceling headphones will drown out any disrupting noises around you. Carrying a travel pillow will make it easier for you to lay your head down and rest while you’re traveling. Using a combination of these items will make sleeping easier, and will help to combat travel fatigue.

Stay Hydrated

It's easy to get dehydrated while traveling. Dehydration may worsen your mental and physical state, and may prevent you from getting better sleep. Therefore, always make sure to drink water while you’re traveling, and once you arrive at your destination.

Limit Caffeine and Alcohol Consumption

You may find that caffeine helps you to stay awake during the day, but consuming too much caffeine, or consuming caffeine too late, may make it harder to fall asleep at night. Therefore, limit your caffeine intake, and only drink caffeine during the morning, or as late as the early afternoon.

Although your vacation may be an excuse to drink more alcohol than you normally do, you should limit your alcohol intake if sleep and rest are a priority for you. According to research, alcohol causes poor sleep quality. If you are going to drink during your vacation, just make sure to watch how much you drink, and avoid drinking alcohol right before bed, so you get proper rest throughout the night.

Eliminate Blue Light Exposure at Night

Blue light is emitted from electronic devices like your laptop, phone, and TV. Studies show that blue light exposure suppresses the release of melatonin, which can confuse your circadian rhythm. In other words, looking at blue light at night tells your sleep cycle it’s not yet time for bed. Just as exposure to sunlight is good for your energy levels after you wake up in the morning and throughout the day, blue light impairs your body’s natural ability to sleep at night.

Therefore, instead of browsing the Internet, checking emails, or watching TV before bed, think of your vacation as an opportunity to try new things. Instead of staying in and exposing yourself to blue light from your devices, use that time to go out into your new environment for a walk. Explore your city, eat some dessert (just not too much!), ask a local or your concierge for nighttime itinerary suggestions, or just stretch your legs. Also, vacation is a great time to pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read, and reading before bed may help you relax and fall asleep earlier.


Exercising in the morning is a great way to boost your energy levels during the day, and help you sleep better at night. An easy way to include exercise into your travel plans is to include some activities that include walking, swimming, or hiking. There are plenty of ways to get some activity during the day while you’re on vacation without going to a gym.

Eco Terra

There’s no worse feeling than finally returning home, expecting restful sleep, only to find that your hotel room mattress was better for sleep than your mattress at home. If you don’t have the right mattress, you may feel like you are always on vacation from good sleep quality.

Having the right mattress makes you feel more comfortable in bed, and allows you to get the good quality sleep that your body and mind require to feel good during the day. Upgrading your mattress can drastically change how you feel, and can significantly boost your energy levels.

EcoTerra Beds are natural, eco-friendly latex mattresses designed for ultimate comfort. They are made with pure and natural latex, encased in organic cotton and an organic wool cover to allow you to stay cool and comfortable throughout the night.

Furthermore, Eco Terra offers a natural latex topper. So, if you find that you often have a hard time sleeping on new mattresses, you can pack your topper in your bags with you to give you extra comfort and support wherever you are.

Patrick Gunther

Patrick is an accomplished writer. He has been in the retail mattress space for the past 13 years, and more specifically in the natural mattress niche. He blogs on the subjects of natural mattresses, sleep, health, fitness, and green living.