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steveoelliott

Difficulty Sleeping / Insomnia On Cruise Holidays

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Hi all,

I am reaching out having recently returned from a 14 day cruise with Cunard on QE which encompassed the Canary Islands so 7 of these days were port days. I travelled on exactly the same cruise some two years previous but on that occasion the cruise was only 12 days (less stops).

One issue I have found is that I often find it difficult to sleep or remain asleep at night. If I stay out late at night and indulge myself then I tend to get off to sleep nicely but due to background noise of cabin stewards, fellow guests who are early risers and room service etc. I am normally awoken no later than 6am. After this time I really struggle getting back to sleep.

On the other hand, if I take it easy and try for an early night will fall asleep around 11pm only to then wake up at 2:30 – 3:00pm for no reason and then struggle to get back off to sleep.

The upshot of this is that during both cruises I have never got more than 6 hours sleep a night and many were only 4 hours. At times I felt absolutely exhausted but try as I may I couldn’t nap in the day.

Back at home I seldom have many sleep issues. Once or twice a month I may get a restless night but during these holidays I really got to understand what it must be like to be an insomniac.

I’m keen to know others experiences or am I unique J

I love cruising and I’m determined to not let it put me off!

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Maybe you would do well to speak with your doctor rather than cruisers on  a public internet  forum?    Good luck.

Edited by sail7seas

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9 minutes ago, sail7seas said:

Maybe you would do well to speak with your doctor rather than cruisers on  a public internet  forum?    Good luck.

 

Thanks for your kind feedback....

 

To be frank I'm not looking for a medical remedy / intervention as generally I don't have issues with sleep. However, I am interested and curious to see how fellow cruisers find their sleep patterns are when on-board.

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I am grate ful I always sleep we ll on cruises.  I like HAL's mattresses and sleep  comes easily  for me on ships.  Nog   necessarily  so  at  home

 

Do you sleep okay in hotels?   Maybe it is because of the strange   bed   and  bedroom

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8 minutes ago, sail7seas said:

Do you sleep okay in hotels?   Maybe it is because of the strange   bed   and  bedroom

 

Generally I'm OK away from home... I suspect it may be the excitement / noise.

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Not sure which side of the pond you live on and where the cruise started. Because jet lag would have been my first guess if you had to fly across to start the trip. Whenever we fly to Europe, my internal clock is askew for a few days. 

Barring any medical problems or new medications, external noise might have been a big factor, too. I read in your other thread that your room was under the Lido deck, and you had several occasions where the noises from above intruded into your cabin. IS it possible that you were sleeping more lightly than usual, and any sudden noise (a door slamming in the corridor, something being dropped on the deck above) was enough to waken you? Hopefully you returned to your usual sleep pattern when you returned home. Maybe next time select a cabin without a public area above or below you.

Edited by mom says

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I usually sleep really well on cruises, much better than when I stay in hotels or other places away from home.

I do use ear plugs !

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Also, are you dealing with changes in time zones? And for some of us just the excitement of being on holiday can disturb our sleep patterns (not to mention out of the ordinary food and drink😉).

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So... This cruise started and finished in my home time-zone (UK) so jet lag not a factor here... I actually have few issues when going to US and back home with sleep apart from the immediate day after.

 

Ear plugs are a good point and I have already ear marked that (excuse the pun) for the next cruise. My wife is an audiologist so she will have some moulds made for me.

 

Although I found the Lido deck irritating at times and it would have been easy to blame that, I don't feel that was the real problem. I must say though I do find the morning noise in the corridors keeps me awake once awoken so fingers crossed the ear plugs help!

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I would also suggest - don't try to nap in the daytime.  Even if you don't actually fall asleep, your body is resting.  You may be resting too much.

 

I find, when I've been waking up "too early", just keeping to a regular schedule (no naps, or extra rest time during the day) puts me back on track within a day or two.  

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I have more trouble  sleeping at home than on the ship

but you  are right  about the other pax  that are up early  banging around in their cabin  then slam the door on their way out

why can they just hold the door until it closes  so need to let it slam shut  IMO

 

Next  is housekeeping  staff in the hall getting ready  for the day

I have the same issue in hotels ...I am on vacation  & I like to sleep in till 8-9am

 

I have  no solution for you  but understand where you are coming from

 

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Alcohol tends to disrupt sleep patterns if you are indulging more than you normally would at home.

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Have you considered an inside cabin? I find that I sleep much better in an inside cabin than an outside or balcony- I love the total darkness that an inside cabin provides. With an outside or balcony, I am up with the sunrise, even if I've been out late the night before.

 

I hope you find a remedy so you can continue to enjoy cruising!

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Caffeine, alcohol, adrenaline, and simply too much excitement are all logical  explanations. If OP doesn't have the issue at home, it is not anything to worry about. Just go with the flow.

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That must be very frustrating for you.

 

I always sleep very well on cruises, but I also take a sound machine with me to mask the sounds from bothering us. I actually think we sleep too well on ships sometimes. 

 

 

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I don't sleep all that well at home; have decided that 6 hours is just my norm and have quit fighting it.  I especially don't sleep well on vacations, whether airplanes, hotels, cruises, etc.

 

I am not sure why and I have tried various OTC remedies without much luck.  I don't drink, haven't noticed noises from outside bothering me and our curtains are drawn at night.  I think the different surroundings, general excitement, changes in time zones and food that is different from home, as well as too much food all have an effect.

 

It gets better on longer cruises when we have settled down from all the traveling, getting to port, getting settled in, etc., but getting more than 6 hours probably isn't happening for me.

 

I know this isn't helpful advice, but you are not alone!

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This happened to me once on my first cruise. I woke up around 2:30am and was wide awake. Unfortunately it is difficult because it's not like I could simply get up and go to another room and turn the light on to read or watch tv (so as to not wakeup hubby.) So, no option but to lie awake for hours, ugh. Most other times I have such a full day with excursions, swimming, meeting new people that I wear myself out and can hardly stay awake during dinner, LOL. Hope you had a good cruise otherwise tho...

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I have had sleep issues for decades when at home or in a hotel.  But put me on a cruise ship (we have spent more then 1000 nights on cruise ships) and I usually sleep like a baby :).  We do prefer cabins towards the bow (forward of the forward elevators) since we find that part of the ship (on most vessels) to be quiet.  The foot traffic outside those forward cabins is limited to only the few souls that are in cabins further forward.  If we book a cabin towards amidships then there is constant foot traffic (and plenty of talking) as lots of cruisers and staff walk to and fro past the cabins.  We also are careful to choose cabins that are surrounded on all sides, above and below by other cabins.  We avoid being near any public areas to avoid any associated noise.  Another big benefit of being near the bow is that if the seas are a little rough that part of the ship has the most movement.  That movement just rocks me asleep :).

 

Hank

 

 

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On 10/21/2018 at 12:34 AM, Thisisgood said:

This happened to me once on my first cruise. I woke up around 2:30am and was wide awake. Unfortunately it is difficult because it's not like I could simply get up and go to another room and turn the light on to read or watch tv (so as to not wakeup hubby.) So, no option but to lie awake for hours, ugh. Most other times I have such a full day with excursions, swimming, meeting new people that I wear myself out and can hardly stay awake during dinner, LOL. Hope you had a good cruise otherwise tho...

When it happens to me, I just throw on some clothes and find a public area with a comfortable chair to sit and read.

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On 10/21/2018 at 4:26 AM, steveoelliott said:

One issue I have found is that I often find it difficult to sleep or remain asleep at night. If I stay out late at night and indulge myself then I tend to get off to sleep nicely but due to background noise of cabin stewards, fellow guests who are early risers and room service etc. I am normally awoken no later than 6am. After this time I really struggle getting back to sleep.

 

One thing that hasn't been mentioned is the amount of light in the cabin. These days cabins, even inside cabins, are rarely fully dark. There are tiny lights on TVs, phones, chargers and so on, and if these lights are green or blue it is surprising how much they light up a room. If you are used to sleeping in a very dark room these lights may affect your sleep. I suggest covering as many of them as you can and also try wearing a sleep eye mask. 

 

Since you mention you wake around 6am, the onset of daylight may also affect you if the cabin curtains aren't totally effective, and most of them aren't. Again, a sleep eye mask should help.

 

I've suffered from insomnia for many years and noticed a distinct improvement in my sleep since I started using a sleep eye mask every night. 

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On 10/21/2018 at 3:34 PM, Thisisgood said:

This happened to me once on my first cruise. I woke up around 2:30am and was wide awake. Unfortunately it is difficult because it's not like I could simply get up and go to another room and turn the light on to read or watch tv (so as to not wakeup hubby.) So, no option but to lie awake for hours, ugh. Most other times I have such a full day with excursions, swimming, meeting new people that I wear myself out and can hardly stay awake during dinner, LOL. Hope you had a good cruise otherwise tho...

Get yourself an LED booklight, or a Kindle with a built in light. Both of these provide sufficient light to read without disturbing the other person in the cabin. However don't use a tablet, phone or any other backlit device to read on as that sort of light will severely affect the chances of getting any more sleep. The Kindle screen light is a completely different type of technology so doesn't cause problems.

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Keep in mind that light from electronics can keep you awake too.   The recommendation is to not use tablets or computers prior to sleep as the direct light into your eyes mess with your circadian clock.  If you want to go the ereader route, do a little research to find out which is best.  Black font on white background, or white font on black background. A little clip on book light for the traditional book reader shouldn't affect you.

As we age, sleep becomes more difficult. I rely on tryptophan and melatonin at home, but when travelling, I need the occasional prescription strength sleep aid after 5 or 6 bad nights.  Particularly worse if on travel meds like anti-malarials.  I also tend to use ear plugs most night (but then often sleep through the alarm).

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6 hours ago, NantahalaCruiser said:

When it happens to me, I just throw on some clothes and find a public area with a comfortable chair to sit and read.

Oooh, I bet that is a really unique look at the ship's activities at that hour. Like a behind the scenes kinda thing.

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OP, I feel your pain! I am an ultra light sleeper, easily disturbed, even at home. Any travel, even when I should be exhausted from activity, finds me unable to sleep soundly for any length of time. On my last land trip I tried a melatonin product (useless) and I've tried OTC diphenhydramine based sleep aids (actually make me *more* restless). For me I think it's the unfamiliar bed and pillow, no matter how comfortable, it's different. 

I do know, the more anxious I feel about it, the worse it gets! 

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3 minutes ago, mef_57 said:

As we age, sleep becomes more difficult. I rely on tryptophan and melatonin at home, but when travelling, I need the occasional prescription strength sleep aid after 5 or 6 bad nights. 

mef_57, what prescription product do you take? Does it have noticeable side effects the next day? 

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30 minutes ago, Shellbelle28 said:

mef_57, what prescription product do you take? Does it have noticeable side effects the next day? 

As to Melatonin, it either works, or doesn't work, but you tend to need to give it a few days' trial before giving up on it.

As to the Rx, I am not at home to look at the bottle.  The side effect is a terrible taste in the mouth for a day or so afterwards, but no major grogginess.  I take it so infrequently, I don't recall the name.  Sometimes a partial pill does the trick, but it isn't meant to provide sleep for 8 or so hours, more like 6-7, but at least uninterrupted sleep and I do get more than 7 hours' sleep.

Others rely on Ambian.

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If you sleep OK at home but have difficulties on cruises or in hotels then you need to compare that cabin/room to your sleeping environment at home and try to adjust your surroundings to match, if possible. 

 

I always use a sleep eye mask, sometimes white noise, and sometimes ear plugs although I find them uncomfortable. I also find it helps to have the room/cabin as cold as possible - which isn't always cold enough on some cruise ships so I now have a good fan to use if necessary. I also cover as many of those pesky little lights on electronic devices as I can.

 

DH is one of those people who is asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow so I turn off all room/cabin lights and read using my lighted Kindle, on a low light setting, until the sleeping tablet takes effect. If I wake during the night and need to go to the bathroom I use my Kindle as a light - I do not turn on the bed light or the bathroom light. Just using a low powered light really helps me get back to sleep more easily. Before I got my lighted Kindle I used an LED book light on low setting.

 

However there are times when all these things just don't work in a strange sleeping environment. Many years ago I gave up the struggle to sleep well when travelling and now use prescription sleeping tablets when necessary. I got tired of paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for trips that I couldn't enjoy due to lack of sleep. The type I use is Imovane 7.5mg (which may be an Australian brand name). It contains zopiclone, a sedative-hypnotic. I take 1/2 to one tablet and that usually ensures a good solid night's sleep most nights I use it. I don't get any side effects from this product and find it very effective 95% of the time. 

 

 

 

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I just checked my Rx, it is also Zopiclone 7.5mg and 1/2 a tab is sufficient. My initial dose was 1 - 5mg tablet, but even half of that was sufficient for a full sleep.

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14 hours ago, OzKiwiJJ said:

One thing that hasn't been mentioned is the amount of light in the cabin. These days cabins, even inside cabins, are rarely fully dark. There are tiny lights on TVs, phones, chargers and so on, and if these lights are green or blue it is surprising how much they light up a room. If you are used to sleeping in a very dark room these lights may affect your sleep. I suggest covering as many of them as you can and also try wearing a sleep eye mask. 

So true.  I've put towels, sweaters, books(whatever will block that pesky light) up in many rooms (hotels and cruises).  

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50 minutes ago, mef_57 said:

just checked my Rx, it is also Zopiclone 7.5mg and 1/2 a tab is sufficient. My initial dose was 1 - 5mg tablet, but even half of that was sufficient for a full sleep.

 

50 minutes ago, mef_57 said:

 

 

59 minutes ago, OzKiwiJJ said:

The type I use is Imovane 7.5mg (which may be an Australian brand name). It contains zopiclone, a sedative-hypnotic. I take 1/2 to one tablet and that usually ensures a good solid night's sleep most nights I use it. I don't get any side effects from this product and find it very effective 95% of the time. 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for the info on the sleep prescription. 

Earplugs are the worst, aren't they? 

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1 hour ago, Shellbelle28 said:

 

 

 

Thank you for the info on the sleep prescription. 

Earplugs are the worst, aren't they? 

 

Just looked up Zopiclone. In the United States, zopiclone is not commercially available, although its active stereoisomer, eszopiclone, is sold under the name Lunesta. I've heard of Lunesta. 

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4 hours ago, Shellbelle28 said:

 

 

 

Thank you for the info on the sleep prescription. 

Earplugs are the worst, aren't they? 

 

I did find some slightly more comfortable ones in Walgreens when I was in NY last month. Their own brand and bell shaped, I think. They are much softer than any others I'd tried in the past.

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I find the motion is like rocking a baby the sleep.

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As the OP, I can honestly say I have been amazed by the amount of feedback / advice the community have provided.

 

I definitely need to invest in a night light (especially for use in the bathroom as those lights are so bright), an eye mask and some ear plugs.

 

I also do intend to see my doctor to see if there is anything they can prescribe me to use as an absolute last resort next time I am away. However, I suspect here in the UK they will be reluctant but it doesn't hurt to ask. I have tied melatonin and Nytol and frankly they are useless in my view.

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1 hour ago, steveoelliott said:

As the OP, I can honestly say I have been amazed by the amount of feedback / advice the community have provided.

 

I definitely need to invest in a night light (especially for use in the bathroom as those lights are so bright), an eye mask and some ear plugs.

 

I also do intend to see my doctor to see if there is anything they can prescribe me to use as an absolute last resort next time I am away. However, I suspect here in the UK they will be reluctant but it doesn't hurt to ask. I have tied melatonin and Nytol and frankly they are useless in my view.

 

Good luck! 

Read up on relaxation/breathing exercises too. (Can't hurt, work a little.) 

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11 hours ago, steveoelliott said:

I also do intend to see my doctor to see if there is anything they can prescribe me to use as an absolute last resort next time I am away. However, I suspect here in the UK they will be reluctant but it doesn't hurt to ask. I have tied melatonin and Nytol and frankly they are useless in my view.

 

They might be less reluctant if you explain that you only intend using them when travelling. Good luck.

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