Tis’ the night before a theme park or Disney adventure and the excitement is brewing for all the family. But how do you ensure a restful night’s sleep before and after the big day?
To help with this, AttractionTickets.com has partnered with Dr.Hana Patel, resident sleep expert at Time4sleep to provide advice on how roller coasters impact sleeping patterns and methods to try after a thrilling day on the rides.
So, whether you’re braving the punchy VelociCoaster at Universal Orlando Resort, or you’re heading to Disneyland Paris this Christmas to ride the iconic Big Thunder Mountain, these are the ways to ensure you and the family feel energised and ready to take on the thrills…
How does excitement affect our sleep?
Recognising what excitement is and how you can work around it is key to getting a good night’s sleep when you’re on a thrill-seeking trip of a lifetime.
Dr Hana Patel explains: “The feeling of excitement can affect our sleep in many different ways. Firstly, the physical responses to excitement such as an increased heart rate or quick and shallow breathing keep our bodies awake and alert.
“In addition to this, high levels of excitement can impair sleep by prolonging how long it takes to fall asleep, causing a fragmented sleep overall. There are also other physical responses to consider – when we are excited we make cortisol, which is a hormone that can disrupt sleep.
“An increased heart rate will most likely impair your ability to sleep as the sensation will maintain a sense of alertness, stopping you from falling asleep easily.
“Therefore, your ability to sleep after a day at a theme park greatly depends on your body’s ability to recover from the excitement experienced earlier in the day. If you’re older, you may find that it takes your body longer to recover from a rollercoaster ride as our vestibular systems deteriorate.”
So what can you do to ensure a good night’s sleep after a day at a theme park?
Practice breathing techniques
Dr Patel says: “Treat it like any other night in order to relax. To lower your heart rate, try breathing deeper and slower for a number of minutes before bed.
“You can follow the 4-7-8 method which involves inhaling for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling slowly for 8 seconds. Using this method reduces cortisol, one of the hormones released when we are excited or anxious.”
“It might seem obvious, but avoid things like caffeine whether this is in coffee or a sugary drink, as this will only impede your ability to sleep further.
“Caffeine disrupts sleep by blocking the sleep-inducing chemical adenosine, leading to difficulty falling asleep and reduced sleep quality; ideally, it’s recommended to avoid consuming caffeine at least 6 hours before bedtime to minimise its sleep-disrupting effects.”
Train your body to be less sensitive to motion sickness
Motion sickness can occur after repeated movements such as going over bumps or going around in circles. There are exercises to try that can help:
Dr Patel continues: “As we get older, the vestibular system gets less efficient, meaning it doesn‘t respond as easily to motion of the head or to movement around us. The vestibular system provides the sense of balance and the information about body position that allows rapid compensatory movements in response to both self-induced and externally generated forces.
“Normally the inner ear responds to movement automatically, so we aren‘t aware that it is functioning until the movement is too much for our vestibular system to handle. When that happens, such as riding a roller coaster, we experience motion sickness.
“The good news is that you can train the vestibular system to be less sensitive. Essentially, you have to provoke the symptoms so that the vestibular system becomes more tolerant.
“Try a manoeuvre known as Brandt-Daroff, which includes three sets per day of movements, from sitting upright to the side-lying position and back to the upright position. These movements can underlie the same mechanism effective during acceleration on a roller coaster.”
For more information and to purchase tickets to Disneyland Paris or the theme parks in Orlando, please visit https://www.attractiontickets.com/en.