Top 6: Ways to Adjust to New Sleep Patterns During TravelBy Angelica Malin
Sleeping is one of the most important things we can do each night to make sure we stay healthy, alert, and active. The average adult needs between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night, at minimum. There are a ton of helpful tips over at over at the Sleep Advisor, for everything from which mattress is best to ways you can change your lifestyle for the best sleep possible.
If you’re an avid traveler, like I am, you know that traveling into time zones far away from your own can lead to a lot of stress on your body, which in turn could lead to you maybe not enjoying your trip as much as you could have. I hate missed opportunities, so I’ve developed my own tricks for better ways to adjust to these new sleep patterns during travel, and here are my top six tips:
Try to Adjust Habits Gradually
If you’ve ever had a baby or a toddler that you were trying to sleep train, or changing the bedtime of, it’s a similar routine to get your own body to adjust to a time change. If you know that you’ll be going to bed 4 hours later than what you normally do, for example, start a week or two before and push your bedtime back a half hour every couple of nights.
Another thing you can do, according to USA Today, is to change your clocks in your home to your destination time. It will help your mental state, as you’ll already be thinking as if you were in a new timezone.
There’s also an app for that – there are several applications that will allow you to type in your home city and destination city and will tell you when to start going to sleep each night and even how much light to let into the room to mirror the effects of the light on your brain. By the time you get to your destination, your body won’t have any idea that there is even a difference in time.
Resist the Urge to Nap as Soon as You Get Off The Plane
You woke up for a 5am flight and you’ve landed at 8pm local time. You want to go to bed, but guess what— if you do, you’ll wake up at 3 or 4am tomorrow morning and you’ll be off schedule for the rest of your trip. Resist the urge to go to bed early or take a nap, and try to do whatever you can to hold off until you can go to bed at a normal hour, so that your entire trip is not affected.
Prepare Yourself For Your Accommodations
Spontaneity is fun but it makes adjusting to new sleep patterns even harder on your body. Research as best as you can where you’ll be sleeping and find out if it’s a camping, glamping, hostel, bed and breakfast, or five star situation. This will allow you to make the best of things. This will also allow you to prepare and bring the necessary items you need to get the best night of sleep possible, whether it be noise cancelling headphones or your own mattress pad or pillow, so that you’re fresh to explore the following day.
Drinking the proper amount of water is critical to being able to sleep properly whether you’re traveling abroad or in your own bed at home. Make sure you drink at least a couple of glasses of water each day and limit your caffeine and alcohol as they can be dehydrating and keep you up all night, according to WebMD, confusing the time zones even more.
If you Can’t Sleep, Try Self-Soothing
Self-soothing isn’t just for babies. If you’re in a foreign land and unable to sleep it can be just as anxiety filled as a baby in a new crib unable to understand why the lights are off and what’s going on. Try anything you can to make yourself feel more relaxed whether it’s putting on a favorite nightgown, sipping on (decaffeinated) herbal tea, or taking a hot shower before bed. You can even try meditation or relaxation exercises, or some kind of mental exercise like counting sheep.
Be Active and Keep Your Regular Level of Activity Up
This is vacation (or work travel) and it’s not business as usual— it’s far from your regularly scheduled programming, in fact. But, although you’re having more fun and doing more sightseeing — you should still try to keep to your regular schedule as close as you can.
If you normally have breakfast, go to the gym, and rarely ever take a nap— you should stick to that. But if you’re a person who takes naps all day long in between activities on a regular basis, you should keep that up on your vacation. By keeping up the same level of activity and a similar routine in place, your body won’t be nearly as confused at night.
Traveling is amazing and it’s incredible to get to go on many adventures. If you follow these tips, you’ll be well rested so that you’re actually able to enjoy your journey, and not sleeping your entire trip away!