While traveling can provide so many incredible experiences, jet lag is not one of them. Feeling sleepy after moving time zones is a natural thing, yet it also can completely hinder all your fun plans. According to a study from IHG, one of the world’s leading hotel companies, three in four people admit to having trouble sleeping while away from home and the average US business traveler loses around one hour and six minutes of sleep each night.
While we all have our various strategies to try to kick this annoying problem, we thought it would be a good idea if we asked a pro to weigh in. Sleep expert Dave Gibson is luckily here to help. Read ahead to learn his top five tips to say bon voyage to jet lag.
Photographed by Heidi’s Bridge.
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Tip 1: Adjust Your Body Clock In Advance
“Possibly the biggest single sleep disturbance for those traveling is jet lag,” shares Dave Gibson. “Jet lag occurs when we travel across time zones and try to adjust our body clock, or circadian rhythm, too quickly.”
“The best way to avoid this is to set your routine closer to the time at your destination a few days before you travel. Move your bedtime either an hour earlier (or later) each evening and try to change your meal times too if possible.”
Tip 2: Get The Light Right
“Light is the biggest single cue for sleep and can be used to help your adjustment when traveling and getting to sleep easier,” notes Gibson. “We are naturally programmed to feel tired when it gets darker and to be woken up by the morning light.”
“When traveling, get your lighting in sync with the new time zone as soon as possible. If you are arriving at night, stay awake while you travel, and keep your lighting bright so you feel tired when you arrive.”
Tip 3: Drink Water (Especially When Flying)
“Drink water to keep hydrated and avoid caffeine and alcohol especially when flying long haul, as dehydration is a symptom of jet lag,” shares Gibson. “For those who plan to sleep within eight hours of getting off the plane, avoid all caffeinated drinks. In addition, while the sedative effect of alcohol may help you to get to sleep more easily, it fragments sleep and reduces quality.”
Tip 4: Eat Healthy, Eat Early, And Take Probiotics
“Our digestive system and our sleep are inextricably linked and are affected by what and when we eat or drink,” says Gibson. “Eat a varied diet with foods containing nutrients such as tryptophan, magnesium, and vitamin D.”
He adds, “Eat your last big meal about four (and at least two) hours before you go to sleep. If you are traveling across different time zones, as you adjust your sleep and wake times, also change your meals to the new time zone if possible.”
Tip 5: Choose Your Hotel Carefully
“Where you sleep, matters. Choose a destination hotel that offers you the best chance of a good night’s sleep,” advises Gibson. “Check they have a decent pillow menu, black out blinds or curtains, and decaffeinated drinks in the room. Check noise levels, too and ask them to provide you with a room that is on a quiet floor and away from noise pollution like traffic.”