On Your Next Cruise, How to Sleep Like a Baby


MELISSA MAYNTZRadiance of the Seas

Travel can be enjoyable, exciting, entertaining – and exhausting. A cruise is no exception, and you’ll need a good night’s sleep every night so you don’t miss any of the different activities and ports of call on the itinerary. Strange beds, unfamiliar cabins and unexpected motions of the ship can disrupt even the heaviest sleeper, however, so how can you be sure you’re getting the very best shut-eye on board?

Choose Your Cabin for Good Sleep

The first step toward good rest on a cruise ship is to be sure your cabin is in the best possible spot for good sleeping conditions. The motion of the ship, for example, is more pronounced in the extreme fore and aft locations, and if you are sensitive to that motion, you’ll want to choose a cabin in the center of the ship.

Take note of local noise as well – if your cabin is right underneath the gym, you may hear the noises of weights or machines from early morning workouts. Similarly, a cabin near a major intersection or elevators will have many more people passing by the door, often in conversation, whereas a cabin in a more isolated area will have much less foot traffic. Cabins on lower decks closer to the rear of the ship may hear a bit more engine or anchor noise, while cabins near children’s areas may hear more shouts and excitement from the youngest cruisers.

Also check deck plans when choosing your cabin. If there are many adjoining cabins nearby, you may be near larger groups of passengers, such as a family reunion or a bachelor or bachelorette party. In some cases, those celebrations can be louder than you may appreciate for good sleep.

Prepare Your Bedroom

You’ll get the best rest if your cabin is as close to your familiar, home sleeping conditions as possible. Bringing your own pillow or pillowcase along on the trip can help be sure your head rests easy every night, or you may want to bring along a favorite blanket if you’re sensitive to different textures of bedding. You can also ask your cabin steward for an extra blanket or extra pillows if necessary.

If you sleep with a fan, sound machine or soft music to serve as white noise, bring along what you need to replicate that condition in your cabin. A small travel fan can also be useful to help air circulate in your cabin and keep it cooler, essential if you prefer to sleep in a cool room.

The light level in your cabin can easily affect your sleep. Do you need a very dark room to sleep well? Consider choosing an interior cabin, or be sure your window or balcony drapes are tightly closed – a hair clip or clothespin can keep them that way. Use an extra towel to block light under the cabin’s door, and tuck a tissue into the peephole to eliminate that bright spot of light. On the other hand, if you need a bit of subtle light in your cabin, you may want to pack along a night light or leave the curtains cracked to give your cabin a cozy glow.

Get Tired

You won’t sleep well if you aren’t tired, but fortunately there are plenty of ways to wear yourself out on a cruise. Join in different activities and don’t be afraid to try something new. Consider visiting the gym or taking a good walk around the decks so you are getting enough exercise to wear your muscles out, or opt for more active shore tours. A nice afternoon nap may be a wonderful way to relax on vacation – especially napping in a deck chair on a cruise ship – but try not to nap too much if you have trouble sleeping at night.

Keeping your familiar bedtime routine can give your body clues that it’s time to sleep so you will rest more easily. Pack your comfiest pajamas or otherwise sleep just like you’re accustomed to at home. If you normally shower at night or have a regimen of beauty cream, hand lotion, tooth brushing or other tasks before bed, keep up that routine while you’re on board the ship. Do you normally read before bed, or always write in a journal? Bring along a favorite book or notebook so you don’t miss that clue to good sleep.

Avoid Overdoing – Anything!

It is tempting to do a little too much on vacation – overeating, a few extra drinks, stretching yourself beyond your limits – but when you overdo, you won’t sleep as well. Indigestion or digestive trouble can have you spending more time in the bathroom than in your bed, and if you’ve drunk too much, you may be sitting on the bathroom floor instead. A strained muscle, twisted ankle or other injury from pushing yourself too hard can keep you up at night, and so can that wicked sunburn from enjoying too much sun with too little sunscreen.

A cruise can be the best vacation of your life, and it will be even better if you’re getting the best sleep of your life on board! Taking appropriate steps to sleep well can make sure you’re relaxed, refreshed and rejuvenated every night for the next day of your cruise getaway.

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