We know getting a good night’s sleep is important for our body and mind to function properly. But, what happens when your sleep routine is interrupted? The following day could be a struggle with daytime drowsiness, mood disturbances, and can even lead to health risks down the line if not attended to.
To help everyone keep their sleep in check, we’re diving into what effects travel can have on your sleep patterns and the best ways to overcome them to get back on track.
Do you ever come home from a trip and think you need a vacation from your vacation? The tight car or airplane provides little to no comfort, combined with the stress of packing and unpacking and hoping you have everything. Traveling can be exhausting and wreak havoc on your biological clock when your time zone drastically changes. This can lead to jet lag and/or travel fatigue.
What’s the difference between jet lag and travel fatigue?
Travel fatigue is mainly the exhaustion you feel when traveling, usually felt with shorter trips that don’t cross very many, if any, time zones. With symptoms such as feeling drained, a headache and confusion.
Jet lag, on the other hand, is a temporary sleep disorder that can affect those who travel across multiple time zones. The main symptom you’ll experience is most likely daytime fatigue, causing you to be drowsy and less alert in the middle of the day.
Whether you’re on a business trip or a big adventure, no one wants to have low energy and sleepiness when you need to be awake and alert.
Making sure you’re getting good, quality sleep is still important when traveling, so you can maintain your overall health and energy.
Here are some carefully curated tips and tricks to keep your sleep game on par when traveling:
Plan ahead and adjust your sleep schedule
When you know you’re going to be gone longer than two to three days, start shifting your sleep schedule an hour or two before your trip to help fend off jet lag. If you’re traveling eastward, try going to bed earlier than normal, and if you’re traveling westward, try staying up a little bit later. This’ll help your body adjust to the local time when you get to your destination.
Expose yourself to light
Your best bet for light exposure will be natural sunlight, outside of course, but if that’s not an option for your travels, then a well-lit room or light box will be extremely helpful.
It might be a good idea to get sunlight exposure ahead of time – same as you would at your destination.
Use supplements, caffeine, and naps strategically
Taking supplements, like melatonin, will help support your body’s natural process for falling asleep. Taking melatonin around the destination time will help your body ease into adjusting to the local time.
A morning coffee, or some sort of caffeine, will help wake you up at your new morning time. Caffeine promotes alertness and is a great way to jump start your system for the day. Adding caffeine to your diet is not intended to be habit forming, so be cautious and wise about your intake frequency and volume.
Naps are also a great way to help your body adjust to your destination’s time zone. However, naps need to be used strategically. If your nap is too long, you could experience difficulty falling asleep that evening. It’s best to stick to a good power nap that lasts 20-30 minutes maximum.
Stick to your own bedtime routine
If you have children, you hear all the time to keep a bedtime routine for them to get quality sleep, but adults need a bedtime routine just as much as kids do. And, remember to do your best to stick to these routines when traveling. Doing so will greatly reduce the symptoms of jet lag.
Taking a bath, listening to soothing music, or reading a good book are great ways to wind down and relax your body and mind for a restful night’s sleep.
What are some ways you keep your sleep on track during your travels? Let us know in the comments.