Traveling is a wonderful experience and a chance to see many new, amazing places. Many people travel on a regular basis, either for business or pleasure or a bit of both. While it can be an amazing experience to travel to a new distant place, it can often wreak havoc on our bodies and our sleep patterns.
Our Circadian rhythm is the internal clock within all of us that tells our bodies when it's time to sleep and when it is time to wake. This 24-hour internal clock is set to the routine that we are used to, and when we travel to new time zones this internal clock gets disrupted, making it challenging to get enough good sleep. Here are 10 things you can do to reset your Circadian rhythm while traveling.
10 Do Not Nap!
As tempting as it might be to crash into your hotel bed and sleep for a few hours upon arriving at your new destination, this can cause you even more troubles sleeping later on, especially if you have traveled through some time zones. It is better for your body to stay awake until the natural bedtime at your new destination.
Instead, go for a walk around your new destination, have a bite to eat, do some exercise, and try your best to stay awake until bedtime. Even if you crash early at night, if you're able to keep yourself awake until bed, you will give your Circadian rhythm a better chance at resetting itself quicker.
9 Spend Time Outdoors
The outdoors does wonders for the mind and body in a variety of different ways. It lifts our moods, revitalizes us, and gives us increased energy. Being outdoors also helps to naturally reset your Circadian rhythm, as the natural sunlight will remind your body that it is time to stay awake, and it will give you the energy to do so.
Go for a walk, or even just sit outside in the sunshine. As the sun begins to set, it will also signal to your body that it is time to start winding down for bed. Continue going for a brisk walk in the mornings at your new destination, as this will help to get your Circadian rhythm back on track quickly.
8 Eat melatonin-rich foods
Melatonin is known as the sleep hormone; it signals to the body when it is time to sleep and when it is time to wake. Certain foods are high in melatonin, and by increasing your melatonin intake, you can help your body to regulate its sleep habits.
Foods that are high in melatonin include berries, cherries, and melon, and these fruits are also high in potassium and magnesium, both of which are helpful in muscle relaxation. Healthy foods are good to consume at any time, but when you are traveling, it is especially important to consume healthy food and look after your body. This will go a long way in helping to reset your Circadian rhythm.
7 Get some exercise
Exercise is beneficial in so many ways; it helps to relieve stress, it strengthens our muscles, it increases blood flow, and believe it or not, it helps to reset your Circadian rhythm. Consistent exercise helps to bring alertness to the body, which provides you with much-needed energy as you battle jet lag after long travel. It also helps you to sleep better at night, which in turns helps to get your hours switched around.
Between the benefit of being outdoors and getting exercise, a light walk around the area will do wonders to help reset your hours and get you sleeping in your new time zone in no time at all.
6 Stay away from caffeine and alcoholic beverages
It's no surprise that caffeinated beverages and alcoholic beverages aren't great to consume when you're dealing with jet lag and getting accustomed to new time zones. Both of these types of beverages are dehydrating for one thing, and you will already be dehydrated after traveling. They also interfere with your REM sleep, making it harder to get the deep, restorative sleep that your body so desperately needs.
Instead, stick to herbal teas, natural fruit juices, and lots of water. Once you're over your jet lag and have gotten your hours switched around, feel free to indulge in some of those beverages. But, hold off at first and give your body a chance to adjust.
5 Gradually switch your hours before your trip
If you know that you're going to be traveling to a new time zone where the hours are significantly different than your current hours, try preparing your body ahead of time, if possible. Start to alter your bedtime by a 1/2 hour or so each night and/or wake a 1/2 hour earlier or later than usual, depending on what time zone you're flying into.
By getting your body on track to adjusting to these new hours, it should help to diminish the amount of jet lag you experience, as well as decrease how long it takes your body to adjust and your Circadian rhythm to reset.
4 Adjust the lighting to help your body sleep
It is no surprise that light plays a huge role in how well we sleep and how well we adjust to new sleep times. If you are trying to get your hours switched around in a new time zone, ensuring that your room is nice and dark while you're sleeping will help tremendously toward you having a decent sleep and getting your body adjusted to the new times.
If you are finding that you're having a hard time waking in the morning, try leaving your blinds open at night, so the morning sun can help your body to wake up and recognize the start of a new day. This will eventually help your Circadian rhythm to reset and adjust to the new time zone.
3 Stick to a sleep routine before, during, and after your trip
If your body is fairly well programmed, and you have a consistent bedtime routine, then you will be able to lean on this routine to help your body adjust when traveling. Try sticking to the same bedtime routine that you do at home, although this can prove to be challenging when you're out partying while on vacation!
At least try to stick to the routine during the first few days of your trip, in order to help your body adjust to the new time zone. If you regularly read a bit before bed or do some gentle yoga, try doing the same routine while on vacation as well. Your body will recognize the consistency and will know that it is time to sleep.
2 Be kind to your body, especially before bed
There are several things you can do in the evening to be kind to your body and help it to recognize that it is now time to sleep. Try doing some gentle exercise, such as yoga, or meditation to slow the mind and ready the body for sleep.
Try taking a hot bath, as the increase in body temperature followed by the decrease in body temperature afterward has been known to help people fall asleep. Read a little bit and enjoy a herbal tea like chamomile tea before settling down for a good night's sleep.
1 Eat dinner early
Eating late at night can cause you to have a more disruptive sleep, as it throws your body's sleeping pattern off and sets it to work digesting the food you consumed. Instead, aim to eat between 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. if possible, and avoid snacking right before bed.
This is not only a healthier thing to do on a regular basis, but doing this while traveling will help you to sleep better and therefore helps your Circadian rhythm to reset and get you back on track with your sleeping patterns.