Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sleep Deprivation While Traveling

I thought I'd share my sleepless experience in hopes to show you the importance of sleep when you travel.
 
This slowly built up through the start of Guatemala by rooming with people who weren't feeling well aka 'snoring' every night. I think I should invest in ear plugs.
 
Remember what I said about sleep and how it's only for home in my previous post? 

Forget what I said.

Sleep IS for home AND for travel.

You need it to function. Your body needs the rest and to be given the chance to rejuvenate for the next days great adventure. Of course when traveling there are plenty of times that this is not possible. It's okay. This is supposed to be part of the travel experience. It's a miracle if you are able to sleep on an overnight bus from one destination to the next. I try but I just can't do it!


Woke up at 3am to watch the sunrise on an unstable deck on Indian Nose, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.
With that said, by day 6 of my Guatemala experience, my friend and I were so sleep deprived, we couldn't even function. We spent most of the day exploring Tikal with no food, made time for a quick snack/lunch though I really had a hard time eating while feeling sick to my stomach, and went to freshen up and relax before New Years dinner and festivities. Then it somehow finally caught up to us.

 Tikal, Guatemala
 
Of course more me than her because she can fall asleep ANYWHERE and wasn't nearly as tired as I was. I really don't know how she does it.

Night time hit and we were planning on eating dinner around 8 and ending the year exploring more of Tikal.

But by 6 pm, she was telling me she no longer had an appetite, didn't want dinner, and was focused on the mosquitos flying in our cabin.

I was still really hungry but I was so physically exhausted I literally couldn't move and even go to get dinner. I could not get up, keep my eyes open, couldn't focus on her trying to keep our conversation going, my body was frozen, kept falling asleep while she was talking then waking up with migraines, feeling like throwing up nothing because I had nothing in my stomach, and really did not care about the flying mosquitos and the 3 not small spiders next to my bed and normally I DO! They could have attacked me and I would have let them. It was that bad.

All the days leading up to day 6 with barely any sleep finally caught up and it wasn't pretty. And that is how I ended the year 2012. Woo hoo!

My plan was to wake up really early and spend New Years Day in the jungle and watching the incredible and 'magical' sunrise as described exactly to me by a few friends. It would be me alone because Vanessa was fine with not having to wake up at 3 am and wanted the sleep time. After hearing about this 'magical' sunrise more than once, there was no way I was going to miss out on the opportunity because I knew I would have regretted it. That and I love wandering around any jungle/rainforest any chance that I get.

Well then that sleep deprivation experience happened and I realized I really needed that night of sleep....so somehow I finally was able to reach over and turn off my alarm. I sadly 'thought' I made up my mind about not going to see the sunrise and continuing my exploration of Tikal. I didn't know what to do and I knew deep down it was the wrong decision.

And funny how things happen to fall into place. Vanessa got out of her bed to go to the bathroom and with the flick of the light, I woke up. I tried covering my face to make it dark but I was wide awake. I turned over to look at the clock and it was 3:50am.
 
I all of a sudden got really worried and right away Vanessa could see it in my eyes because you can see EVERYTHING I'm feeling through my eyes and said: "Do you want to go see the sunrise?" And I responded with: "Yes, I really want to."
 
I knew then I would have been so disappointed in myself if I made it to Tikal and didn't even go. So somehow I found my energy, quickly got up, changed my clothes, threw on my shoes, no make up, and grabbed my camera, flashlight, and Tikal ticket. I was out of there at 4 am. And just the night before, I couldn't even move a muscle!


The time spent in the jungle at 4 in the morning was absolutely amazing. There are truly not enough words to describe this experience. The sounds were indescribable. The howler monkeys were so vocally vibrant and expressive. The bats flying around. I love and appreciate everything the jungle offers. Not just here but through my other experiences in the Amazon as well. Oh and the sunrise above the rainforest really was 'magical'. I'm keeping that experience for myself and won't post any pictures of it just to leave it as a surprise for anybody planning a trip there.

The other bonus for being up that early was that the area was nearly deserted! I got to spend more time within the Mayan pyramids with no distractions and tourists! I was able to really take it all in, take pictures, and see what I missed out on the previous day. Got a few cool pictures taken of me from some people there with promises of emailing them, in which I have received! I also helped out a couple from Mexico and Argentina who didn't have a camera and couldn't capture any Tikal pictures. I paid it forward and took some of them with promises of emailing them. Glad I got to help them out and give them a good memory to have on their journey. :-)

It was a day that I won't ever forget and am so glad it was meant for me to wake up without my alarm and to explore more. Being happy to wake up at 3:50 in the morning just sounds so silly!


So with all this, I won't change my style of travel and love of adventure. I also really love sleep and will continue to make sure I'm getting it but at the same time not sleeping through an adventure and missing out. All I can say is fit sleep in somehow. It's not worth working so hard to travel and coming close to missing out on adventures due to not enough sleep.

Have you ever experienced something like this while traveling?