Take the road less travelled. Venture off-the-beaten path. Escape the tourist trail.
Such route-based clichés are thrown around with wild abandon when we refer to travel. But there’s one we seldom remember to advise upon: Get back on your sleep track, when you return.
Ok, so it might be a less catchy piece of advice. And you’re unlikely to see it adorning posters in a travel agent’s window, or on a piece of distressed wood in a hipster coffee joint. But it’s one that’s well worth bearing in mind.
After all, travelling isn’t all paradise beaches or perfect sunsets. It’s cancelled flights, dodgy stomachs and lost passports. Sure, there’s the adventure of the unknown; but there’s also the loneliness, chaos and pure exhaustion of being thrown into a surreal environment. It can be downright stressful, at times! And of course, it can wreak havoc on your sleep patterns.
A combination of different hotel rooms, overnight buses and noisy neighbours can make it hard enough to sleep when you’re away. Then there’s the homecoming – when you have to readjust to a new time zone, catch up on all the sleep you’ve missed during your journey and get used to it being dark during your morning commute when just last week, you were up for a sunrise jog on the beach 3 hours before.
Such disturbances to your sleep can make those post-holiday blues a whole lot darker. Luckily, I’ve got a few tips to help you stay in the light.
1. Stay up and don’t crash out
Climbing into bed after a long journey might seem like the best idea in the world...until you wake up in the middle of the night, thinking it’s breakfast time. Or not being able to get up before 2pm for a week after you’ve landed.
Unfortunately, giving into the temptation to crash out post-trip is a sure-fire way to jetlag. This knock to your sleeping pattern will leave you feeling lethargic, irritable and emotional. On the other hand, by making it through a day of pure exhaustion when you land, then having an amazing, deep sleep that night, you’ll feel like a new person come morning!
I know which person I’d rather be after my holiday.
2. Resist the urge to party
Not to be a total killjoy here but jumping straight into a “welcome home, me!” party when you land isn’t a great idea, either. Sure, you might be high on adrenaline and excitement that night but the repercussions can last for days…giving jet lag another look in when you should be kicking it firmly to the kerb.
My advice? Lie low for at least a day or two when you land. Get to sleep a little earlier than usual and allow yourself more time in bed in the morning, too. Catch up on missed sleep in those first few days and you’ll look better, feel healthier and be more energetic for that reunion when the time comes!
3. Beat off the bug
Of course, the travel bug is something that you’ll probably never shake off. But there are other bugs linked to travel that you definitely can…like the mysterious flu that always seems to kick in right after take-off.
Whether it’s the cabin pressure, or the combination of a laughably thin blanket and ice-cold air con or the hotbed of germs that long-haul journeys seem to involve, falling ill after a flight is a fairly common occurrence.
To avoid this happening to you, drink plenty of water during the flight, make sure to get enough sleep between movies and steer clear of caffeine and alcohol if you can. (I know. The teeny flight bottles are so cute. But they’re not your friend.)
After you get home, keep your hydration and Vitamin C levels up with plenty of orange juice and bundle up in lots of layers to help your body adjust to the change in climate. If you must show off that new beach dress, at least pair it with leggings and boots!
By staying healthy when you land, you’ll be able to sleep more easily; and better sleep will lead to you feeling even healthier! Win-win.
4. Listen to those in the know
Whether it’s your partner sensibly talking you out of a mid-week cocktail party (you’re not still on holidays, after all!) or the experts who know their sleep stuff, be willing to take whatever advice is offered. Take it with a pinch or with a shaker of salt if you prefer but take it all the same!
Because if you’ve just returned home from a trip, with full-on travel blues, chances are you won’t be in the soundest of minds. And if you’re sleep-deprived, you’re probably feeling more irritable, less motivated and incapable of making wise decisions. On the other hand, if you take the advice of those around you and get to bed early, rest rather than partying and so on…well, let’s just say you’ll know what’s good for you come morning!
Your eating, sleep and work habits will improve, making the return to reality a whole lot easier.
That’s about all for now, travel fans! Here’s to a great trip, wherever you go next…and to sweeter dreams when you return.