The Crucial Thing People Forget to Do Before Vacation

There’s still a few weeks left in summer — which means you still have time to plan a last-minute vacation to the locale of your choice. (Preferably somewhere sunny but not too hot, where you can hang out, relax and unplug from your phone for a few days.)

But too often, the promise of relaxation to come can lead us to push ourselves to the extreme. We can stay up way too late in the days before a trip to tie up loose ends; the anxiety of sleeping through our alarm to head out early makes it impossible to get any shut-eye.

It turns out, neglecting to be well-rested before a trip is a recipe for disaster. Or at least, some uncomfortable moments with your travel partners.

One of the most cliched images of family holidays is one of everyone clambering into the car and… immediately biting each other’s heads off. In a recent interview with the BBC, psychologist Linda Blair, who writes books on calmness and relaxation, said that this can be attributed to the lack of sleep that so many of us suffer from before vacation. And instead of simply planning on catching up on sleep during your holiday, you should aim to get as much sleep as possible beforehand.

“If you crowd any mammals, they get aggressive,” she says. Blair notes that it can take about four days to start to wind down and start feeling relaxed — definitely too long if you’ve only got a week off. She adds that if you start off feeling tired and stressed, you may feel emotionally vulnerable as you start your break. All in all, there’s too much potential for things to wind up like a fraught family road trip.

Now, we all know that trying to catch extra sleep can get complicated if you happen to share a bed with a partner. As you may have gathered from our recent chat with Dr Kristin Daley, more and more couples are considering getting a “sleep divorce,” to avoid the heartache of being kept awake all night by a partner. No need to call your lawyer (unless you both feel very, very strongly about sleeping on the left hand side); all this means is sleeping in separate rooms so that your different sleep patterns — or one person’s snoring! – don’t affect each other.

But no spare room on your trip? Plan bedtimes considerately, remove electronics, and consider a pillow barrier. And check out the full interview for more detailed tips on how to maximize your sleep potential with a partner.

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