Family time is one of the most important things people yearn for. It usually includes vacations (after the youngsters return following their year-end exams) or long holidays. However, it becomes difficult for parents to ensure their children get enough sleep during vacations.
Experts say that vacations are times when your sleep is enhanced. “Sleep is essential for maintaining good human health. In fact, we spend one-third of our lifetime sleeping. It not only leads to physical restoration, but also consolidates our memory resulting in mental restoration as well,” says, Dr Ayush Gupta, senior consultant, pulmonology and sleep medicine at Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi.
Vacations and sleep
“Vacations or holidays have their own pros and cons on an individual’s sleep cycle. The impact on sleep also depends on the type of vacations taken. If people are prone to sleep disturbances, it is recommended to plan ahead and take steps to ensure you get the rest you need, even when you are away from home,” says Dr CP Ravikumar, consultant pediatric neurologist, Aster NeuKIDS, Whitefield, Bengaluru. He adds that school-going children face different sleep issues during vacation as compared to working adults.
How vacations affect sleep in children
Dr Kaneez Fatima Merchant, consultant clinical child psychologist, Mumbai, said that children should follow the same sleep routine during vacations as they do during the non-vacation period. “Sleeping late during vacations due to either excessive play or lack of physical activity (in contrast to what happens during school days) will cause the child to wake up late, thereby disturbing their sleep patterns,” said Dr Merchant.
What parents need to do
Parents need to be aware of the following to ensure adequate sleep in their children during vacation:
- Keeping a check on the child’s physical activities, making sure that it is at a moderate level, as increased physical activity will cause trouble sleeping.
- Indulging children in learning new skills or activities to decrease their screen time and boredom.
- Making sure that the child is given an activity every morning that matches with their school hours. This will help to increase excitement in children to wake up on time the next morning, thereby promoting sleep hygiene.
- Providing children with a balanced diet and avoiding junk food.
- The time gap between food consumption and sleep should be at least three hours.
Impact of vacations on sleep
- Reduced stress: When an individual is on a long holiday, they are more relaxed and free from the stress of daily tasks. This reduction in stress and anxiety will help them sleep faster and better, provided they are away from gadgets.
- Increased physical activity: An individual often tends to do a lot more physical activity during holidays compared to a work week, which can help them sleep better. It is also important to note that one should not over-exhaust their energy.
- Mode and timing of travel: Crossing different time zones along with the timing and mode of travel (early morning or late night flights) can have an effect on sleep due to jetlag and stress.
- Changes in environment: Staying at a hotel, resort or holiday home often requires some time for people to adjust to the surroundings, which in turn can affect Familiarity of an individual’s home (or room) can help them to have a good night’s sleep.
- Alcohol consumption and late-night parties: The food and alcohol limit can go haywire during vacations. This can alter an individual’s eating schedule and sleep cycle. Alcohol consumption will disrupt the sleep patterns and late night party will lead to sleep deprivation.
Green space helps you sleep better
While most of the vacation time is spent in the countryside, mountains or by the beach, many studies have shown that having greenery around helps an individual to sleep better. A review paper published in the journal Environmental Research studied several original and peer-reviewed articles. Their study aimed to find out if green space had any effect on sleep.
Interestingly, their research revealed that 11 out of 13 studies associated green space exposure with improved sleep quality and quantity. Green exercise and therapeutic gardening are also suggested as possible intervention methods to improve sleep outcomes.
- Vacations or holidays can affect an individual’s sleep cycle.
- Parents should keep a check on their children’s physical activities and provide them with a balanced diet to ensure adequate sleep during vacation.
- Exposure to greenery has been reported to improve an individual’s sleep quality.