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Why do we have trouble sleeping well when we go on vacation?

Vacations should be for rest. Yes, big trips are wonderful, but in the end you spend 15 days on the road and when you get home you need another vacation to recover from your vacation. And, be careful, because it’s not a bad plan to plan your days off in this way.

But whatever you do, if you don’t sleep well, there’s nothing to do. And why is it that when we go on vacation we are not able to sleep as well as we would like? We don’t have to get up early, we don’t have to think about the pile of e-mails waiting for you at work the next day… What’s wrong? We talked to the insomnia experts at Somnisa and what happens is quite simple: we miss our bed.

Change of bed

Yes, it is. Sleeping badly in summer is not only related to heavy dinners, excessive drinking or heat waves. Changing beds affects our sleep much more than we think. “It is common to wake up disoriented the first night we spend in our vacation destination. Being in a strange place and changing mattresses undoubtedly influences our rest,” say Somnisa experts.

And I’m sure it has happened to you. Mattresses that are too firm or too soft, a pillow that is too hard or too high, sleeping on a 90 cm bed when you are used to sleeping on a 150 cm bed… All of this leaves you feeling exhausted. “Each of us is used to a specific firmness, size and material (latex, viscoelastic, pocket springs…). Our body notices these changes, something that can cause problems when it comes to falling asleep,” explains Dr. Cristina Zunzunegui, director of the Clinical Area of Somnisa and specialist in Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine.

The environment also influences

It’s not only the bed that throws us off when it’s time to sleep, the environment is also a key factor. In the end, although we love to travel, we are creatures of habit and we notice a lot when we are not in our place of reference. “Not being in our room, moving to a much warmer or colder climate, and even the lack of blinds, all affect the quality of our sleep,” they explain.

What can we do?

Have you noticed that when you travel to a city in another European country, many houses and hotels lack blinds? Hopefully you’ll find an opaque curtain, but chances are you’ll end up waking up when the sun’s rays start to fill everything with light. “Melatonin has a lot to do with this,” we’re told. “This hormone not only helps us to fall asleep, but also to stay asleep. Its secretion is favored by darkness, so if light enters the room, the melatonin level will decrease and we will be more likely to wake up,” explains the doctor. The solution is as simple as wearing an eye mask.

It is also good to “try to maintain sleep routines. It is true that, during the vacations, we stay up later and stay up later. Nevertheless, it is advisable, as far as possible, not to change our sleep schedule too much,” adds Dr. Zunzunegui. And, above all, don’t obsess if you don’t sleep well the first few nights. “Fortunately, our body is prepared to adapt to this type of change, so in just a few days we will be used to the new environment,” says the doctor.

Enjoy and rest on your vacation, my friend!

By Vicky Vera