Traveling to different places or countries is exciting, especially going to places in different time zones. However, it can also take some getting used to because depending on how far you travel, the difference in how your body responds literally could be night and day. Traveling or crossing time zones can throw off the internal clock of your body. This means that the more time zones you cross, the more challenging it can be for your body to adjust to the new local time.
When you travel between time zones, your chances of experiencing sleep difficulties are greater, especially when you travel from west to east. This is because it’s more difficult to move your sleep time earlier than it is to delay it. This is also the reason why every day, millions of travelers struggle against jet lag, which is one of the most common among sleep issues.
According to studies, the condition of jet lag results from disruptions to your body’s 24-hour circadian rhythm or your biological clock, which is caused by traveling to a different time zone. Our circadian rhythms are slow to adjust and may remain on their original schedule for a few days when we travel to a new time zone. Therefore, the outcome will be difficulty in falling asleep.
If you will be traveling between time zones soon, no worries because there are ways you can follow to avoid having jet lag. Today, we are going to give you tips for getting a better sleep when traveling between time zones
1. Plan Ahead
Before your trip, try to figure out how much you will need to shift your sleep and wake up times to be in sync after you arrive at your destination. You can try to start going to bed early or get up earlier, or vice-versa. It will depend on the direction you will be traveling in. This way, you will get your body used to the new time zone before you have to live in it.
2. Change the Time on Your Watch
When you’re on the plane, make sure to adjust your watch to reflect the time zone you’re traveling to. If you are using your phone as your watch, most Smartphones will automatically correct to the new time zone once you reach your destination.
3. Expose Yourself to Light Strategically
Light is the most important factor in resetting your body clock. When you get to your destination, try to get 15 to 30 minutes of direct sunlight as soon as you wake up. You can go for a walk, sit in the sun and read, or eat breakfast outside. You can do this during your first few days there to help your body adjust to the local time.
4. Downshift During Night Time
When you arrive at your destination at night, try to dim your lights, eat light, and engage in relaxing activities to set the stage for a good night’s sleep. You can use an eye mask and earplugs to help you create the right mood to snooze.
5. Avoid Drinking Coffee and Alcohol
Try to avoid drinking coffee or alcohol at least 3 to 4 hours before bed. This can help you avoid stimulant-caused issues with sleeping. Also, alcohol has been known to worsen the symptoms of jet lag, so it’s better to avoid it when you travel between time zones.
6. Keep Yourself Hydrated
Changes in altitude can make people dehydrated easily, whether while on the plane or if you’re going to a place at higher altitude. Before and during your flight, make sure to drink plenty of water because dehydration can make it more difficult for your body to adjust to a new rhythm
7. Exercise Early
Exercising during the day and doing other activities with lots of movement may help you in falling asleep more easily in a new time zone. However, make sure that you do not exercise too close to bedtime because that will most likely keep you up all night.
8. Avoid Travel-Related Stress
You can bring your favorite pillow or blanket with you or other elements of your home which can help ease the nagging feeling of being in a new environment. You can also request the front desk of the hotel to voicemail you or send you a wake-up call in the morning in case you sleep through the alarm you’ve set.
9. Consider Medication or Sleep Aid Options
Using a natural sleep aid like Melatonin can help sync your body’s circadian rhythm to the new time zone. It can help adults who are crossing five or more time zones because melatonin can help put you in the mood to sleep at the right time. But you need to consult your doctor first before trying any sleep aid supplement or drug to be safe.
10. Rewind in Preparation for Going Home
When your trip comes to an end, you can gradually adjust your bedtime and wake up time in 30- or 60-minute increments towards the new clock setting to ease yourself into the change. If you can’t do this, you can simply follow the tips we gave above to be able to adjust to the new time zone at home.
Adjusting to different time zones can be challenging. But by following the tips we shared, you will be able to cope with or avoid jet lag no matter where you go. If ever you experience jet lag on your travels, you can also check out our post on How to Minimize the Effects of Jet Lag for more tips.