The average person requires seven-eight hours of sleep each night to function at their optimal level, and when travel is added to the routine, jet lag makes it extremely difficult to meet this requirement. And, if crossing time zones, the ever-dreaded jet-lag is likely in store. Many weight loss clients coming to PFC Fitness Camp share a similar profile of busy business lives… long hours at the office, high stress levels, and lots of international travel. Besides making time for exercise and eating well, we also emphasize the importance of sleep to their overall health. Lack of sleep results in increased cortisol levels which is that nasty stress hormone related to weight gain.
If you travel often, your body will thank you for reading PFC’s Chief Wellness Officer, Dr. Lee Rice’s 10 Tricks to a Sweeter Slumber in the Sky. Bye bye jet lag!
1. Adjust to the new time zone you’ll be arriving in as soon as possible.
For example, go to sleep and/or wake up the night before or on the plane at the same time you would be doing so at your new destination. That prepares your mind to be best able to go to sleep and also to wake up at the new times. Avoid sleeping on the plane if you will be arriving at nighttime for the same reason.
2. Drink plenty of fluids on the plane, as air travel is very dehydrating.
Avoid alcohol on the plane which also increases dehydration.
3. Take a stroll or a jog outside the first morning after arriving.
Both full-spectrum light exposure and cardiovascular exercise assist in maximizing our alertness. So taking a walk or jog outdoors the first morning after arriving can be very beneficial in shaking off those feelings of jet lag. Bonus- Add activating music to help put an extra pep in your step.
4. Minimize or avoid alcohol the first night in the new time zone.
Alcohol interferes with normal sleep physiology and can especially limit normal REM sleep cycles.
5. Minimize prescription sleep medications, as they also can disrupt normal sleep architecture.
Add caffeine, sugar and simple carbohydrates to the list while you’re at it. Natural substances such as Melatonin or Tryptophan can be beneficial as well as Vitamin D3, Omega 3 and GABA. They all support normal sleep physiology.
6. Exercise prior to leaving on a trip.
Some international flights can leave you seated for 20+ hours which can result in cramps, horrible sleep and jet lag when you finally arrive to your destination. A great exercise prior to your trip will help to minimize the negative effects of sitting on the plane for prolonged periods.
7. Use noise-canceling headphones.
On the plane, when you want to sleep, pop those headphones or ear plugs on along with eye covers to minimize stimulation from light or noise.
8. Incorporate relaxation techniques
Help yourself relax by incorporating techniques that relax mind and body. Try simple meditation, slow deep breathing, visualization of relaxing scenes, and relaxing your body starting at your toes and then slowly focusing on each of your body parts until you finally relax your face and scalp muscles. Try one of the free widely available Meditation apps if you’re not comfortable knowing how to do this yourself. We like Deepak Chopra’s Guided Sleep Mediation for Restful Sleep.
9. Don’t use your brain before Bed
Avoid answering work emails, watching stimulating TV shows, or reading complex material before falling asleep. Working out the brain keeps the body awake.
10. Remember, expectation breeds reality!
EXPECT to have a wonderful trip, to sleep well, to feel rested and vibrant when you awake and to enjoy your travel. We have tremendous power over our feeling state and our experience. Don’t give that power away to situations or to others. Control your own outcomes by positive thinking, letting go of negative self-talk and accepting a state of joy, gratitude and abundance.