If you get seasick easily, have insomnia, or simply have a harder time falling asleep on a boat, then, first of all: You’re not alone.
While some people might have an easier time sleeping on a rocking boat in the ocean, others find it impossible to relax on anything that’s not their own bed. But your nightly worries don’t mean you can’t go on a boat holiday. There are some easy tweaks you can make to optimize your bedtime experience.
Before you do anything, when you’re starting to prepare for your first night sleeping on a boat, consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It states that before anything else, we must address our physiological and safety needs (what’s at the bottom of the pyramid). That means making sure you feel safe, on both a psychological and logistical level. Most of our suggestions have to do with exactly that, as well as some other easy things you can do on your trip to help your boat holiday actually feel like a holiday!
1. Assume the first night won’t be a perfect night of sleep (that’s normal)
The first night in a new location is always going to be a little restless, so don’t immediately assume that your trouble sleeping might have to do with any boat-specific factors. Studies show that a part of our brains might function as “night watch” when placed in a foreign environment, resulting in increased alertness the first night on a boat (or anywhere!).
2. Pack warm sleeping pajamas for cool overnight temperatures
While temperatures might not get anywhere near freezing in the thick of summer, they can still get uncomfortably cool. Pack something you’d wear if you were camping outdoors with just a thin tent over you.
3. Locate your bathroom and kitchen facilities:
This one seems like a no-brainer, but figuring out where everything is located on your boat can put your mind’s “What ifs” at ease when you’re sleeping on a boat overnight. Sometimes, our brains just need a map of its surroundings to remind itself that they’re at home, in a safe place. And there’s no better way to create safety than with complete spatial awareness. Remember that you’re sleeping in the middle of the ocean; some degree of familiarity will help overcome the lack of familiarity.
4. Pack mosquito repellent and screens to keep bugs away
If you’re traveling in warmer climates — as most of you taking your first boat holidays might be — it’s important to prepare for all pests that might bother your beauty sleep. Good sleep means sleeping with no uninvited boat guests.
5. Agree to quiet times
When you’re sharing sleeping tight quarters with a partner or a group, it’s harder to establish the kind of quiet sleeping environment that’s conducive to sleep. Before you start your trip (and before you have a chance to get irritated and build up hostility), have a quick chat with your bunk mates about quiet times (11 at night to 7 in the morning, for example). When bedtime draws near, you’ll rest easy knowing that you’ll have at least eight straight hours of uninterrupted rest time to yourself.
6. Bring a change of sheets
When you’re trying to fall asleep on a boat, the general rule of thumb should be to mimic conditions at home as much as possible, and bundling up in the right sheets is an essential step. This is especially important for voyages lasting longer than a few days when sticky, humid sea air can transform your sheets from velvety soft to rough and tough. Though all Zizoo boats come with essentials like bed sheets, you might want to bring your own to guarantee comfort.
7. Keep the alcoholic drinks to a minimum
Sure, part of a boat holiday means partaking in libations here and there. But keep your consumption moderate if you don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night. This happens because when our bodies are done processing alcohol, they wake up with a type of rebound alertness — not exactly what you want out of your relaxing holiday away from home.
8. Secure any loose items
Everything in the boat seems to come alive when you’re trying to fall asleep, doesn’t it? Pack up any loose items — from pens and water bottles to scissors and wrenches — to make sure nothing rolls off the ship or back and forth the surface of the ship. For this purpose, it might be helpful to bring a few extra plastic bags. They’ll also do the extra job of keeping your things safe from water damage.
9. Take advantage of your natural “white noise” machine
You’re in the ocean, meaning the lulling sound of waves and the gentle rocking motion of the wave will produce the world’s most natural white noise orchestra.
10. Still having difficulty sleeping overnight on a boat? Take naps!
Take advantage of naps! For some reason, many people who have trouble sleeping on a boat at night have zero difficulty taking multiple naps a day in the light of day. In fact, that might be what’s causing bedtime restlessness in the first place. In any case, there’s nothing more indulgent than a quiet nap under the sun, with the clear blue sky watching over you.