WorldExecutivesDigest | Tips you can follow to sleep better when traveling | Very few things can change your sleeping schedule drastically like flying off to another country can.Even if you are traveling for your enjoyment. Your body has a ‘best’ time when it wants to sleep, which is known scientifically as the circadian window, and this usually sets in at 11 p.m. and ends at around 7 a.m.
When you are moving across at least two time zones, the circadian window suffers the most, and this also applies to people moving across long distances on road. Therefore, you need tips to maximize your sleep time and reduce the lags your body experiences when you travel, which we will talk about in this article.
Ensure you sleep strategically
Jet lag is particularly notorious for leaving you tired and groggy during the first few days after moving across time zones and moving too fast between them, causing a mismatch between the local time in your destination and your body’s internal clock that is still operating at the time you started at.
Therefore, start countering the fatigue you will experience on your journey by adjusting your bedtime an hour earlier than when you usually sleep, or later if it is appropriate to your situation. As the travel date approaches, get your bedtime an hour earlier than the previous day. This is because the body takes one day for each time zone you cross to adjust fully, so taking the extra step and planning to sleep earlier makes the transition easier.
Sleep like the locals at your destination
After you arrive at your destination, help your mind and body to adjust by syncing with the local schedule. For instance, if you expect your flight to land at night, stay awake on the plane and sleep when you arrive at your destination. If you are arriving during the day, sleep on the plane and be awake at your destination.
Reduce light exposure
If you are traveling east and your flight will land in the morning, bring a pair of sunglasses that will reduce the light exposure. The best timing to get maximum exposure is in the early afternoon and late morning hours, as this will help your body adjust to the new time zone.
Your goal is to adjust your body clock to help it sync close to bedtime in your destination country. If you are going west, this has lower disruptions on your body clock, so you should aim to get maximum sunlight exposure during early evening hours by going for walks or eating outdoors.
Keep your schedules active
This will apply if you are heading somewhere for two days or less – and that is to maintain the schedule you are used to. This will avoid the problem of giving your body time to adjust and then having it complete its adjustment process when you are supposed to go back home.
Instead, the better option is requesting that any meetings or obligations you have happen during your peak working hours, same as your home schedule, as much as possible.
Take some melatonin
The body’s natural melatonin levels tend to increase two hours before your bedtime to prompt the body to begin resting. If you are traveling across long distances, your body may require some help – aside from doing activities such as selecting a plush mattress when you are settling down at your destination. The good news is that melatonin is available as a non-prescription aid for your sleep, with the maximum dose being 10 milligrams.
Because your body clock is likely to be off-schedule when you are moving across time zones, taking some melatonin will assist the body to produce the hormone at the best time – as long as you get clearance from your healthcare provider. While it is not a cure-all solution, it will still help when you combine it with other strategies like optimum light exposure at specific times of the day.
Do not neglect exercise
As soon as you are ready to start your day, incorporate some exercise and a warm shower into your schedule. Moving your body helps reset your circadian rhythm by increasing the temperature in your body’s core, and this will help you sleep better.
Traveling is an exciting activity, but it can easily leave you feeling more tired than you are used to. Adjusting your sleeping habits before you leave will make it easier for your body to handle these changes.