The Secret to Sleeping Better on Holiday

The Secret to Overcoming Disrupted Sleep on Holiday

We caught up with sleep doctor, Dr. Michael Breus, for tips on beating travel insomnia.

Holidays are a time to escape, disconnect and recharge your batteries. But for many of us, unfamiliar environments, irregular bedtimes and jet lag often result in disrupted sleep, leaving us cranky and exhausted and putting a major dampener on our holiday spirits.

According to the Princess Cruises 2018 Relaxation Report, close to 2 out of 3 (64%) Singaporeans revealed that they struggle to get a good night’s sleep on holiday, with 73% expressing that they experience unpleasant side effects, including daytime fatigue, disturbed sleep and headaches.

So what can we do to get a better night’s sleep on holiday?

Dr Michael Breus, sleep doctor, with the Princess Cruises Luxury Bed

Image credit: Princess Cruises

We caught up with Dr. Michael Breus – a sleep doctor and developer of the Princess Cruises’ Princess Luxury Bed and sleep experience – during his recent Asia Sleep Tour, for tips on beating travel insomnia.

Princess Cruises 2018 Relaxation Report Infographic

What common sleep mistakes are travellers making?

While jet lag is a major cause of travel sleep woes, Dr. Breus shared the mistakes travellers typically make that can exacerbate the effects of jetlag.

For example, red-eye flights are a sure-fire way to disrupt your body clock and sleep-wake cycles. The dehydrating conditions in the plane cabin also mean that a glass of alcohol in the air is worth two on the ground, which Dr. Breus warns can prevent you from having a deep sleep.

Eating food and drinking alcohol before a flight

Once you reach your destination, you might also be tempted to immediately take a nap. However, this is a common mistake that does nothing to help your body transition to your new time zone.

Princess Cruises Specialty Restaurants

Image credit: Princess Cruises

Holidays are also the time to indulge in the local cuisine. However, you should think twice before heading out for a decadent supper – eating too much before you sleep affects both your quality and quantity of sleep.

Planning to wake up at 3 am to catch the sunrise or embark on an overnight drive to another destination? Dr. Breus advises that you adopt a consistent sleep-wake schedule on holiday instead, to avoid disruption to your body clock and make the most of your time away.

The key to getting a good night’s sleep is understanding sleep

Understanding sleep is key to tackling sleep deprivation on holiday. It is important to recognise that your biological clock is slow to adjust and can remain on its original schedule for several days (about one day per time zone crossed) – understanding this is the first step to ensuring a speedy jet lag recovery. Dr. Breus recommends the app, Timeshifter, an advanced jet lag tool that tells you exactly when to get sleep, when to get sunlight and other actions that will ease your transition to a new time zone.

Using the Timeshifter app to get over jetlag

Image credit: Timeshift app (left), Princess Cruises (right)

You also need to think about how sleep is a sensory experience and all five of your senses – sight, sound, touch, smell and taste – must be prepared for slumber. Having a sleep kit on hand – comprising eye shades, ear plugs, aromatherapy, relaxing music and supplements like magnesium or melatonin – will help you fall asleep more easily.

Remember, sleep is not an on-off switch. It's more like slowly pulling your foot off the gas and slowing putting your foot on the brake.

It is also a good idea to invest some time in making sure your travel accommodation can ensure a sound night’s sleep. For instance, carry out a quick online search or ask the hotel front desk whether they have blackout curtains, the noise levels in the rooms, and if they have a sleep programme.

Come Back New with Princess Luxury Beds

As one of the world’s largest international premium cruise brands, Princess Cruises is committed to ensuring its guests come back from your holiday feeling refreshed, renewed and rejuvenated. The cruise line partnered exclusively with Dr. Breus to develop the Princess Luxury Bed, which is the first and only bed in the world developed for a cruise line by a board-certified sleep expert, offering guests the ultimate night of sleep at sea.

Featuring a plush, two-inch thick pillow top, a nine-inch single-sided medium firm mattress for enhanced support, individually wrapped coils for less partner disturbance, a European-inspired duvet and 100% luxurious Jacquard-woven cotton linens – the bed combines the science of sleep and the pinnacle of design to ensure a restful night at sea. The Luxury Bed is now available onboard 15 of Princess’ ships, with another two ships to receive their Luxury Beds in 2019.

The science behind the Princess Cruises Luxury Beds

Image credit: Princess Cruises

To prepare guests for the ultimate night of sleep at sea, Princess Cruises and Dr. Breus also optimised the staterooms for a sleep-friendly experience. Guests in the suite categories are also offered a ‘SLEEP by Princess Kit’ which includes sleep-inducing items such as eyeshades, earplugs, aromatherapy scents, sleep booklet, toiletry items and the Dr. Breus’ Good Night™ app.

Princess Cruises Luxury Beds

Princess Cruises Luxury Beds

Image credit: Princess Cruises

Sleep-deprived Singaporeans need to prioritise holiday time

The Princess Cruises 2018 Relaxation Report revealed that close to half (47%) of Singaporeans did not take all of their holiday days available to them in the last year.

Only 53% of Singaporeans took all of their holiday days available to them in the last year according to the Princess Cruises 2018 Relaxation Report

The survey further highlighted that Singaporeans are not giving themselves the time to let go and relax, revealing that 62% of Singaporeans are not getting the sleep they need. Despite this lack of sleep, 55% of Singaporeans still find the time to check their phones and social media right before sleep, a habit that does nothing to help with sleep.

Princess Cruises 2018 Relaxation Report Infographic

As a result of this sleep deprivation, Singaporeans are sleeping away their weekends and what little time off they have left; 72% of working adults take time off just to catch up on sleep. That amount of time could’ve been spent on a rejuvenating cruise on the Mediterranean coast or exploring the vast Alaskan hinterlands.

Cruise along the Mediterranean coast

Image credit: Aidan Meyer

What Singaporeans really need is an opportunity to unplug, relax and sleep well. With a vast range of activities, a cruise holiday makes digital connectivity an afterthought, not a central plank underpinning life and relationships, helping guests to truly unwind.

The sleep therapy you need at sea

So why not carve out some time for a holiday, take the stress out of trip-planning and hop aboard a fly-cruise to over 360 destinations across the globe with Princess Cruises. Explore a different side of Europe or plan your escape Down Under; with a fly-cruise with Princess Cruises, you can curate your own holiday with authentic local experiences, award-winning shore excursions, and indulge in an unrivalled onboard experience.

Great Barrier Reef Australia

Image credit: Great Barrier Reef, Australia | Princess Cruises

A cruise with Princess Cruises is a destination in itself and the Princess Luxury Beds are only a part of the complete sleep-friendly sensory experience.

Princess Cruises provides plenty of luxurious avenues for you to unwind before bed. Indulge in a massage at The Sanctuary at the top deck, or head to The Enclave to enjoy the extravagant hydrotherapy pool with cascading rain showers.

Unwind at The Sanctuary or The Enclave

Image credit: Princess Cruises

Having trouble adjusting your body clock to the new time zone? Help your body transition with a quick workout at the Lotus Spa®️ Fitness Center, fully equipped with a state-of-the-art gym.

Princess Cruises 24-hour Room Service and yoga on deck

Image credit: Princess Cruises

Foodies can look forward to sampling the local cuisine at your destination, whilst not forgetting to enjoy Princess Cruises’ award-winning speciality restaurants onboard as well. Hunger can keep you from falling and staying asleep – so sample authentic Italian fare at Sabatini’s or enjoy the rare opportunity to savour world-class dishes from Chef Curtis Stone. Just remember not to go overboard!

You can even choose from any of the sleep-friendly recommendations on your room service menu, such as camomile tea or fortified cereal, and have them delivered straight to your room on a complimentary basis.

Princess Cruises Specialty Restaurants

Image credit: Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises stands by its “Come Back New” promise – its Luxury Beds and sleep programme promises to enhance and deepen your travel experience by leaving you less fatigued and less stressed.

Princess Cruises Outdoor Japanese Onsen

Image credit: Princess Cruises

Don’t let your precious leave days go to waste. Invest in yourself and a holiday operator that is as committed to your rest and relaxation as you are. With Princess Cruises, a weekend is all you need for a truly life-changing sleep experience at sea.

Armed with this sleep knowledge, we wish you safe travels and sweet dreams!

Brought to you by Princess Cruises.

About Author


A once-aspiring lawyer, I abandoned a bright legal career (a woeful exaggeration) to join the starving writers guild. I live for solo travel; there's nothing as self-empowering as being amongst a city of strangers and making a conscious effort to avoid human contact. View more of my travel stories here.