It takes more than two days to recover from a week of poor sleep, according…
How to feel well-rested when traveling.
With the holidays upon us, you’re likely in for a bit of traveling. Whether it’s by plane, train or automobile, it can be hard to stick with your normal sleep schedule, particularly if you’re changing time zones.
A recent article from Johns Hopkins University shares tips for better sleep when traveling. “All of us have an optimal period when our bodies want to sleep — typically around 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. This is called your ‘circadian window,’” says Charlene Gamaldo, medical director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep. “And any time you travel, particularly across two or more time zones, it ends up wreaking havoc on your circadian window.”
First, try a more strategic approach to sleep. If your plans are taking you to a new time zone, move your bedtime an hour earlier or later. So, if you’re traveling across three time zones, start three days before departure with an adjustment of one hour per day. Once you arrive at your destination, use the local time to guide your plans for the day. If your flight lands in the afternoon, try to stay awake and participate in any planned daytime activities. If it’s nighttime, avoid sleeping on the plane so you can go to bed when everyone else does.
Another tactic is to use light to your advantage, based on your direction of travel. Light exposure, which can help recalibrate your circadian rhythm, is ideal in the late morning and early afternoon. If you’re traveling east and your flight lands in the morning, wear sunglasses to minimize light exposure. If you’re traveling west, which Gamaldo says is less disruptive, try to get light exposure in the early evening.
It’s also important to move your body. When it’s time to begin your day, try exercising and then taking a warm shower, as increasing your body temperature helps trigger your circadian rhythm. If you still feel off at bedtime, try taking melatonin, a nonprescription sleep aid. While there is no quick fix for jet lag, following these tips can help ease any transitions so that you can enjoy your trip to the fullest.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT . . . ER, SLEEP
We’ve all heard the old saying that it’s not good to eat before bed. But a recent article from wellness-focused website Mindbodygreen says that this isn’t always the case, and some foods can help support a good night’s sleep, particularly if they’re rich in magnesium. Try one of these the next time you’re looking for a late-night snack.
- Bananas With high amounts of magnesium and potassium, bananas help encourage relaxation.
- Dark chocolate Ever wanted an excuse to eat more chocolate? One ounce of dark chocolate contains 15% of the recommended daily amount of magnesium. However, it also contains caffeine, so skip this tip if it keeps you awake.
- Nuts and seeds: Grab a handful of pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, or peanuts. All are rich in magnesium and high in protein to promote satiety.
- Chickpeas There are so many delicious ways to enjoy magnesium-rich chickpeas. Try blending them into hummus, roasting them in the oven with salt, or smashing them on a slice of toast.