Any one who has traveled to any other time zone knows the feeling of the body dealing with jet lag. For me, once I am in a new place or back home, the hardest part is falling asleep and then staying asleep. I know part of it is just the time change but mostly if I am traveling I think my body is in a state of excitement and shock.
I have come to learn that a few things really help me out and I wanted to share and see if you have any other suggestions for our next trips.
1. Water, water and more water!- When my body is in a state of fluctuation I don’t know if I am sleepy, hungry or thirsty. I make sure that even if all the other needs are not met every half hour to hour I have a big cup of water so by the end of the day I have consumed 2 liters of water. I found following a schedule like this at least keeps my body in the right state of health. A great way to keep on track with this is to have a marked water bottle like the picture below.
2. Taking naps- I find that compensating my tiredness with boosts of caffeine does not work as well as taking a nap. Especially if I take a red eye flight, I make sure to give myself time for a nap in the middle of the next day. There are 2 types of naps that will help you feel invigorated after. If I do not have much time I set my alarm for 30 min and try to fall asleep, this means I give myself somewhere between a 20-25 min nap. Any longer than that and your body falls into deep sleep and if woken up suddenly from that, you can often feel even worse then before the nap. With a 25 minute nap I often feel invigorated enough to get me through another half day but not to the point where I cant fall asleep at night. If I am super super exhausted because I did not get any sleep the night before I will try to take a nap around 11am and set my alarm to go off in about 1 hour 45min which give me about a 90 minute nap. This amount of time lets your body go through one REM sleep cycle, I always feel amazing after that. Most importantly I have found that taking a nap any time after 2pm is just a big no no because there is no chance of falling asleep later that night at a normal time.
3. Exercise- Seems the complete opposite recommendation for napping, but one can help the other. If I feel groggy 2 or 3 days into the new time zone and I am close to getting the right amount of sleep at night, I have found just 30 minutes of brisk walking (or jogging), which is easy to do when site seeing, gets my blood pumping and my body warmed up to keep me from going back to the feeling of grogginess for at least a few hours (or until nap time).
4. Valerian- I have heard many people say that the perfect cure for jet lag is to take a sleeping pill the first night, get a full night’s rest and the next day your body is back to its regular self. If that works for you, great, but I am not a huge fan of medication. However, since I have been a little girl, whenever I was having trouble falling asleep, either from being sick or just my little body filled with energy and excitement, my grandma or mom would make me a cup of valerian root tea. It has similar soothing affects like chamomile tea but a little stronger and definitely makes you tired. Tea is not always the most convenient thing to drag around when traveling so I was happily surprised to find that valerian root can be consumed in liquid, powder or pill form with the same affects. Being that my biggest problem when traveling is falling asleep in the evening, this has been super helpful for me.
5. Clock Switch- For this last one, I dont know if it actually helps with jet lag but the day before leaving, I switch my clocks to the time zone I will be traveling to. This might not physically help my body, but it does prep me mentally for what will be my expected time of arrival and how my first day will span out when I arrive. It helps my stress level more then anything.
MOST IMPORTANTLY- Even with all these tips that I use every time I travel, I do my best to not push my body. It is a huge load of stress on a body to switch time zones so I try not to get aggravated in the first few days when I am still not back to my usual self, instead I try to pamper my body with extra fluids, nourishing food and hopefully a nice massage from Brian 🙂
What do you think? What has worked for you?
P.S.- Has anyone tried taking a caffeine nap? If you have please let me know your feelings on the effectiveness as this is something I cant decide between trying or not.