With the holidays fast approaching, many of you will be flocking to the parks to enjoy the seasonal festivities, no doubt trying to pack as much into each day as possible. As a long-standing Disney Parks lover, I can tell you that one of the keys to a successful, action-packed vacation is quality sleep.
Once you’ve taken in all the sensory stimulation of a day in the parks, it can be difficult to calm down to a level where decent shuteye is achievable. Your mind is racing with thoughts of thrill rides and fireworks, constantly replaying the highlights of the day and your plans for tomorrow. Your body is exhausted, muscles might be tense or sore to the point where they can’t relax even in a restful position. When you do get to sleep, your thoughts might be consumed with confusing, string-theory versions of your day that make waking up to the alarm you optimistically set the night before all the more difficult.
The adrenaline that comes with the excitement of your Disney vacation can be hard to shake at nighttime. Previously we’ve talked about how to how to recover from your long theme-park day in time to enjoy the next, but today, I thought we might look at a few tips and tricks for getting your best sleep during your trip to maximize your energy and enjoyment of the next day’s plans.
Don’t eat before bed.
I know this is a hard one because we often come back to the resort to crash right after we finish that late dining reservation; however, that won’t do your body any favors. Consider making your dining reservation for an earlier time and reshuffling your plans.
Experts say you should be leaving 2 – 3 hours between when you finish your meal and when you hit the sack; this allows for proper digestion and can help with insomnia. Give yourself that extra time to let your body find natural cues for sleep, not just the tiring feeling of over-indulgence that will leave you feeling flat in the morning.
Read a book.
At the end of an exhausting day, the last thing you will feel like you need to do is to read a book, but sometimes it can be a great way to help your mind reset from all the action from the parks. And no, reading your Instagram comments doesn’t count. If you are staying for a few nights with kids in tow, try bringing along a Disney classic like Peter Pan, reading one chapter aloud per night. It is a lovely way to end the evening and can help reduce stress levels (even the good kind) before attempting to sleep. Wouldn’t it be nice to dream of being whisked off to NeverLand?
Another option here is my absolute, all-time favorite app, Calm. Set yourself a sleep story for the room to enjoy as you drift off to restful sleep. I have used this with my children for years as they both tend to struggle with turning off after an eventful day. Works every time.
Go for a walk.
I know you are thinking she’s kidding; I’ve taken 30,000 steps around the Magic Kingdom already, and that is true, but when you think about it, those 30,000 steps were likely all taken amongst the stimulating sights, sounds, and gravity-defying feels of the parks. I’m talking about something different. Embracing the dimmed lighting of your resort after dark and taking a stroll the long way back from the bus stop to your room. Enjoy the sparkling fairy lights, the romantic walkways, the crickets chirping in the background.
Use this less exciting time to calm your senses down before collapsing in exhaustion for a more settled rest. In my younger days I took this time for granted, just moving from one place to another, but other the last few years I have found this time to be my secret calming tool before trying to sleep off the day.
Look after your body.
This one looks different for everyone, but taking care of your body after a hard day of park fun might be the most important thing you do to improve the next day’s activities.
Take some time to moisturize your skin. The parks in both California and Florida can be very taxing on your skin; warm weather and heat can leave you dehydrated both inside and out. Massage in some soothing cream that will leave you feeling fresher in the morning, and don’t forget to drink lots of water to help your body recover while you sleep. Do you have sore feet from all that walking? Rub those hard-workers with some firm pressure and feel the tension drift away.
Bring your comforts from home.
At home, we all have that one thing we are familiar with to doing that tells our body it’s time for relaxation. For some, it might be a hot shower; for other people, it might be watching an episode of a specific show. Whatever works for you, be sure to bring it with you.
For me, it’s my Shakti Acupressure Mat that I affectionately refer to as Spikey. After my sister — you remember Casey, right? — got me hooked on using this mat; I can’t live without it and must take it anywhere I go. It is light, portable, and changes the way my entire body feels. It takes a minute to get used to if you are interested in trying it, but it can be a life-changer once you get into the routine.
I’ll tell you, even writing this made me sleepy. I hope some of these tips help you to get the most out of those restful nights so you can spend your days enjoying everything the parks have to offer.
If you have any tips of your own, add them below so share the good sleeping vibes.
Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.
Join Zoë as she lets you in on all the tips, tricks, anecdotes, and embarrassments that arise from her family adventures.