Yes! We no longer need that alarm clock. It is vacation! Recover completely from everything that ‘must’ and enjoy everything that is ‘allowed’. How do you ensure that you can enjoy the holiday to the fullest? By sleeping well! And that turns out to be a challenge for many people during the holiday season. Why is it that we can’t sleep well during the first few nights on vacation? And that some people actually sleep better on holiday?

Bad sleep on vacation

We often leave in a hurry. Everything has to be arranged at the last minute and your brain works overtime to make sure you don’t forget anything, which can stand in the way of a good night before departure. Sometimes we travel at night or with a time difference, which disrupts your sleep-wake rhythm. Upon arrival, your body and brain have to get used to the new sleeping environment. You are not in your familiar bedroom, you are lying on a different bed, there are different sounds, the temperature may be different…. Your brain has not yet defined this place as ‘safe’ and can therefore remain in a more alert state than normal. Also, sensory you have to get used to more or less and other sounds, the temperature and your new sleeping comfort. Your body receives different pressure stimuli from the bed or air mattress than you are used to.

Sleep better on vacation

There are also people who indicate that they sleep better on holiday. Especially people who normally experience a lot of tension and / or stress can often let go better during the holidays and therefore sleep more peacefully. The next day does not bring an early rise time or ‘things to do’. The insomniacs among us can sometimes relax better in a different environment, as they have often associated their own bedroom and bed with something negative (not being able to sleep, frustration, etc.). This charge falls away on the new sleeping place. In addition, you are often outside on holiday and you see constant daylight, which promotes a good night’s sleep. People are also more active with walking, cycling and swimming, which physically increases sleep pressure and ensures better sleep quality. In the evening, a book, an evening walk, a card game or a good conversation in front of the caravan is more often chosen, so that less blue light from screens and LED lamps falls on our retina and our melatonin production is not inhibited. Melatonin helps us to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Would you like to be able to enjoy your vacation days rested?


1. Start relaxed and keep your rhythm

A good start is half the work. Take the time to prepare well for the holiday and leave relaxed and rested. Make an action and take-away list so that this doesn’t get stuck in your head the nights before departure. During the holidays, try to keep to about the same bedtimes as usual and not to shift your sleep-wake rhythm too much. This also works very well for children. You may allow them later bedtimes, but often the nights become restless and shorter and the days more uncomfortable and longer.

2. Personalize your sleeping place

Bring your own pillow, duvet cover and some stuff from home. Immediately upon arrival, let your brain know that your sleeping place is a safe place to be able to sleep peacefully later and rearrange it. Put e.g. put down a picture frame from home and put your book you were already reading next to your pillow. We often do the above for children with the familiar hugs, but we forget for ourselves as adults, while it works! Your own scent from the bedding also helps to get into dreamland faster.

3. Earplugs or relaxing music

One swears by it, the other doesn’t like it. If you manage to sleep with earplugs, this is ideal for the holiday destination. You imagine yourself in your own cocoon and you are not bothered by the hum of an air conditioner or fan or noisy or early risers from neighbours. Are earplugs not for you? Distract your alert mind with relaxing music to help you fall asleep.

4. Sleep Mask

As much daylight as possible in the morning is fantastic for a good night’s sleep, but in the evening and night an environment that is as dark as possible is the most ideal. Are you lying with your tent close to a lamppost, do you have blackout curtains at home, but not in your hotel? A sleeping mask can help. It takes some getting used to, but surrender to it and enjoy the darkness. Not a fan of a sleeping mask? A few garbage bags and duck tape can also darken your sleeping place.

5. Be careful with alcohol

Holiday, relax, sun, sea, beach, terrace, a drink, another drink, another drink…. I’m not going to say that you shouldn’t enjoy a glass of alcohol on holiday, but alternate it with a glass of water and try to stop drinking alcohol well before bedtime so as not to disturb your night’s sleep (and therefore a fit next day). So, it is better to start a little earlier, so that your liver has enough time to break down the alcohol before you close your eyes.

6. Mosquito net

Summer time, mosquito time. Brrr you almost fall asleep, there’s a mosquito near your ear! Too bad if this little critter sabotages your sleep. A mosquito net can offer a solution. Do take something with you on which you can hang the mosquito net or purchase a travel mosquito net with tubes that can be slid into each other.

Do you want to work on problems related to sleep yourself? For low-threshold and concrete help you can contact me

I also provide offline and online services for companies Sleep & Vitality! training sessions.

Do you have any other holiday sleeping tips? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.