How to Sleep Well Before Vacation
It’s the night before vacation.
Your suitcase is packed. But wait, did you remember your vitamins?
You boarding pass is printed. Are you sure it has a pre-check number?
You’ve arranged your ride to the airport. Uh oh, did you actually click the confirm button on the car service website?
A restful night’s sleep? Not likely.
Few among us can sleep peacefully the night before vacation. Most people know they need to rest before the journey, and feel like they’ve done everything — or almost everything — to prepare. And yet, they toss and turn, mentally re-packing both the physical and the emotional baggage.
Here are four tips to help you take off in peace.
Expect Some Anxiety
“It’s reasonable to experience some anxiety prior to going on a big trip,” according to Todd Farchione, a psychologist at the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University. “The anxiety is probably helpful to a lot of people,” says Farchione, because it can serve as a motivator to know your schedule, plan ahead, and pack carefully. A bit of pre-trip frenzy can actually help people “free themselves up to have a good time,” notes Farchione.
Write It Down
If your progress toward sleep keeps getting interrupted with thoughts about extra things you need to do before you leave, write them down, advises Farchione. Taking your thoughts out of your head and putting them on paper serves two purposes. First, it makes the task more likely to get done, because it’s on paper in black and white instead of getting lost in your mind. Second, it allows you to rest knowing your thought is waiting for you when you wake. “Write it down and let it go,” offers Farchione.
This is a helpful sleep tip in general, and a tactic used to help reduce racing-mind. You can read more about doing your own worry journal in this article.
Focus on the details you know, not the potential mishaps that likely won’t happen. “Stay in the world, and control what you can control,” suggests Sherry Amatenstein, a New York-based social worker and editor of the anthology, How Does That Make You Feel? True Confessions from Both Sides of the Therapy Couch. Instead of focusing on whether your travel companions will get along, for example, take concrete actions like making sure your travel documents are ready and accessible, confirming you have enough of any medications you might need, planning your wardrobe, and double-checking that your alarm is set.
Keep It Light
Worried travelers tend to amplify the significance of anything that might go wrong on a trip, from a missed flight to bad weather. Most of the time, those worries focus on minor things that feel disproportionately heavy the more you ruminate on them. Amatenstein advises deploying humor to keep yourself from spiraling into a rut where every possible challenge becomes overwhelming. “Let’s laugh about stuff,” she says. Someone who’s fretting they will forget their healthy snacks at home and be forced to eat a chocolate bar could shake their head and say, “What’s the worst case scenario? So I’m on board the plane without my banana?”
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