6 Super Summer Sleep Tips

One of the best parts about summer for most of us is the anticipation of some time away from the normal routine. Whether that is a trip to Grandma’s a few blocks away, a week or two of summer camp, a day at the beach, a European getaway, or a staycation with the inflatable pool in the back yard, to make the most of your summer, it’s important to make the most of your summer sleep. Here are some tips to do just that.

Tip #1: Don’t Skimp on Summer Sleep

Inevitably, there will be long days, late nights, early flights, missed naps, and so on. But remember that getting your optimum daily sleep requirement is crucial for an enjoyable and memorable summer vacation—so keep an eye on total sleep time and strive for some consistency. A wildly varied sleep schedule will lead to what feels like jet lag, whether you’ve traveled two time zones or two blocks from home. The National Sleep Foundation offers sleep duration guidelines by age group. Sticking with your normal bedtime routine as best you can (bedtime routines are a must for both children and adults) will help you transition your body and mind from wake to sleep – which is particularly helpful in an unfamiliar environment. Ensuring sufficient sleep goes a long way to ensure everyone’s fun, happiness, and well-being.

Tip #2: Stay Safe with Sleep

Don’t leave travel prep for the last minute—or you will be sleep deprived before your getaway has even started. Statistics show that drowsy driving-related crashes increase during the summer months. Similar to alcohol, driving drowsy decreases awareness, slows reaction time, and impairs judgment. If you’re taking a road trip, don’t start out sleep deprived or you could end your vacation before it starts.

Tip #3: Take It Easy—It Is Vacation, After All

Be wary of falling into the trap of trying to do too much. Overscheduling activities is tempting when sightseeing, exploring, swimming, shopping, and other fun activities await you. Instead, balance your schedule with plenty of time for rest and relaxation; after all, isn’t that what vacation is all about? Don’t be one of those people who requires a vacation to recover from their vacation.

Tip #4: Anticipate the First-Night Effect

A study published in 2016 found that on the first night in a new environment, people took longer to fall asleep, woke up more often, and experienced less restorative sleep.  According to the researchers, on that first night, only half your brain is getting a good night’s sleep (while the other half plays night watchman). So, if your first night of sleep was nothing to write home about, make it a point to grab some extra Zzzs. Just avoid napping beachside or poolside without sun protection!

Tip #5: Pack for a Good Night’s Sleep

Part of vacation sleep management involves a good sleep packing list. Here’s a handy checklist so you don’t forget anything:

  • Drown out excess noise. Earplugs and a portable white noise machine (these come in travel sizes and can be placed strategically in a room to help block noise) can save the day (by saving the night) if things get noisy.
  • Manage the light. Don’t forget eye masks for the grownups. Excess light can be just as disruptive as noise. If you don’t regularly use an eye mask at home, try sleeping with one before you leave on vacation so you become accustomed to it before you are in a new sleep environment. Several chip clips or clothespins can take care of any light peeking through hotel curtains.
  • A teddy and a blankie. Everyone should pack a familiar and comforting item from home—which may also help alleviate the extent of the first-night effect. Your child’s favorite sleeping item, whether it’s blanket or a stuffed animal, is a given … but for you, a familiar item can be just as helpful, whether it is your favorite pillow or even a pillowcase.
  • Perfect pajamas. Pack appropriate pajamas based on your destination. Will you be sleeping in an air-conditioned hotel or on an air mattress in a tent? Pajamas specifically designed to keep you cool and wick away moisture go a long way in keeping you comfortable while you sleep.
  • Calming lavender. The scent of lavender is sleep-promoting and can help with the sometimes-overpowering air fresheners and cleaning agents used in hotels.
  • Sunburn and bug bites—oh my! Sunburn, bug bites, poison ivy, and the like will wreak havoc on sleep, so be sure to bring along the preventatives along with some anti-itch remedies just in case.

Tip #6: Enjoy that Vacation Sleep … and Bring Some Back with You

Whether you are camping in a sleeping bag under the stars or booked at a luxury resort hotel, consider bringing some of that “vacation sleep” back home with you. Many people experience an enjoyable improvement in sleep quality away from home. In fact, a 2013 study found that one week of summer camping may improve sleep by resetting a person’s body clock to its natural sleep rhythms.

And how does the extra sleep feel? Going from 6 hours a night to 7 or 8 may feel good enough to convince you to trade late-night Netflix binging for sleep when you get back home. While you’re away from home and work obligations, you may also appreciate how much better you sleep without the glare of electronics at bedtime. And if you are lucky enough to be staying at one of those hotels with mattresses to die for, why not be inspired to finally shop for that new mattress you have been putting off for so long? Even those luxurious hotel pillows and duvets may be just the motivation you need to set up your own sleep sanctuary at home.

Enjoy Your Sleep to Enjoy Your Summer

Summer fun dictates some flexibility in our schedules, but it doesn’t mean we have to shortchange ourselves on sleep. With a little planning, an enjoyable summer vacation can also be a well-rested one. And maybe we can learn a thing or two about getting the sleep we need no matter where our vacations take us. Less electronics, more fun and family time—and better sleep—can make all of our days feel like vacation days.


Blogger: Terry Cralle, MS, RN, CPHQ
Follow Terry on Twitter @PowerOfSleep

Sleep Health and Wellness Professional


  1. At night, your back and mind call for twinkling relaxation.

  2. Great tips! Having a nice mattress cooling topper is a huge plus too. Thanks for sharing!

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