Sleeping Soundly Despite Jet Lag: A How-To Guide

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Travelling to new destinations can be exciting, but it can also be tiring and unexpectedly challenging, especially when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. Whether you are a seasoned traveller or a first-timer, jet lag can throw your sleep schedule out of whack, leaving you feeling groggy and unable to sleep at night. As much as we love exploring new places and experiencing new cultures, it’s essential to prioritise getting quality sleep while travelling.

According to a study by the National Sleep Foundation, jet lag can also have an impact on your cognitive function and mind, and it can take up to a day to recover from each time zone you cross. The study found that around 93% of travellers experience some level of jet lag. That’s a staggering number and a stat that you shouldn’t consider lightly!

Even if we forget the jet lag, the challenges of sleeping while travelling are numerous in themselves. The unfamiliar environment, different time zones, and disrupted routines can all make it difficult to fall and stay asleep. Plus, the excitement of exploring new places can make it challenging to wind down at the end of the day.

But fear not, dear traveller. There are ways to combat jet lag and get a good night’s sleep while travelling. In this article, we will explore some useful tips and tricks for how to sleep when jet-lagged, as well as some jet-lag sleep aids that can help you get the rest you need to make the most of your travels in 2023 and beyond.

Pre-Trip Preparations

Before you embark on your journey, there are a few things you can do to prepare for a good night’s sleep while travelling. One of the most effective ways to minimise the effects of jet lag is to adjust your sleep schedule before your trip. Start shifting your bedtime and wake-up time a few days before your departure to align with the time zone of your destination. This can help your body adjust to the new time zone more quickly and reduce the impact of jet lag.

Another important factor in getting quality sleep while travelling is choosing the right seat on a flight. Choose a window seat to lean against if you have trouble falling asleep on planes so that other passengers won’t wake you up. Also, choose a seat away from places where a lot of people go, like near the bathrooms or the galley, to avoid being bothered.

Packing the right sleep essentials can also make a big difference in getting a good night’s sleep while travelling. Bring earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones to block out any unwanted noise, as well as an eye mask to help you sleep in bright environments. A travel pillow or a small blanket can also provide extra comfort and support, especially on long-haul flights.

By adjusting your sleep schedule, choosing the right seat, and packing sleep essentials, you can set yourself up for a successful night’s sleep while travelling too. Don’t underestimate the importance of preparation, as it can have a significant impact on the quality of your sleep and overall travel experience.

In-Transit Sleep Tips

When you’re in transit, whether it’s on a plane, train, or bus, getting a good night’s sleep can be challenging for sure. But there are ways to make the most of your travel time and get some rest too. One of the most important things you can do is choose the right travel pillow. A good travel pillow should help you keep a comfortable sleeping position and support your neck. There are many different types of travel pillows available, from inflatable to memory foam, so be sure to choose one that suits your needs.

The right travel pillow can be a simple yet essential item in terms of getting a good night’s sleep while travelling. When choosing a travel pillow, consider factors such as the size and shape, as well as the material it’s made from. Memory foam pillows are popular because they mould to your neck and give you personalised support. However, they can be hard to carry because they are so big. Inflatable pillows are a more compact option, but they may not be as comfortable for everyone.

Utilising noise-cancelling headphones can also be incredibly helpful in getting quality sleep while travelling. They can block out the sounds of the plane, train, or bus, as well as any noisy passengers or announcements. If you prefer not to use headphones, consider using earplugs instead. This can be harmful in alarming situations—especially on planes—but being aware of your surroundings will minimise this threat.

Taking natural sleep aids like melatonin can also be helpful for combating jet lag and getting a good night’s sleep while travelling. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles, and taking a supplement can help reset your body’s internal clock to the time zone of your destination. It’s important to talk to your doctor before taking melatonin, as it can interact with other medications or have side effects.

In addition to these tips, there are a few other things you can do to set yourself up for a successful night’s sleep while in transit too: Dress comfortably in loose-fitting clothing and bring layers to adjust to temperature changes. Try to relax before bed by reading a book or listening to calming music. And don’t forget to take breaks and stretch your legs during long transit periods to avoid feeling stiff and uncomfortable. By following these tips, you can make the most of your travel time and arrive at your destination feeling refreshed and ready to go.

Destination Sleep Strategies

Even after you get to your destination, it’s important to keep getting enough sleep to fight jet lag and make sure you’re well-rested for the rest of your trip. One of the most important things you can do is adjust to local time as quickly as possible. This means going to bed and waking up at the appropriate times for your destination, even if it feels too early or too late. It can be helpful to start adjusting your sleep schedule a few days before your trip so that you’re already on the right track when you arrive.

Another strategy for regulating sleep while travelling is using light exposure to your advantage. Bright light in the morning can help reset your body’s internal clock and signal that it’s time to wake up, while dimming the lights in the evening can help you feel sleepy and ready for bed. Consider getting outside and exposing yourself to natural light during the day and using blackout curtains or a sleep mask to create a dark sleeping environment at night.

Practising good sleep hygiene is also important for getting quality sleep while travelling. This includes things like avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed, keeping electronics out of the bedroom, and creating a relaxing sleep environment, too. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try engaging in a calming activity before bed, such as reading or meditating.

If you’re still struggling to sleep when jet-lagged, there are a few additional jet-lag sleep aids you can try. Over-the-counter sleep aids like melatonin or antihistamines can be helpful, but it’s important to talk to your doctor before taking any new medications. Some people find that natural remedies like herbal teas or essential oils can also be effective. And if you still can’t sleep because of jet lag, don’t be afraid to try other jet lag sleep aids or talk to a medical professional for personal advice.

Symptoms of Jet Lag

Sleeping issues are undoubtedly one of the most prevalent signs of jet lag. You might have trouble falling asleep at the right time or wake up earlier than expected. Additionally, jet lag might lead to disturbed sleep too, which can make you feel worn out during the day.

Another symptom that many people experience is daytime sleepiness. Jet lag frequently causes you to feel drowsy or tired during the day, which can be a real hindrance, especially if you have work or activities planned.

Additionally, issues with thinking and cognitive function might result from jet lag. You can have problems paying attention and remembering things, or you might feel like your mind is going slowly. Jet lag can occasionally affect your physical performance as well, which is especially important for sports or fitness fanatics.

In addition to the physical effects, jet lag can make mental health problems, like mood disorders, worse. Some people with jet lag feel irritable, anxious, or depressed, which can make the experience even more challenging.

Jet lag can also cause malaise, which is a general feeling of sickness or unease; stomach problems like a loss of appetite, nausea, or even constipation; and irritable bowel syndrome.

In rare instances, jet lag may alter sleep architecture and raise the risk of sleep paralysis and nighttime seizures, so it’s crucial to keep that in mind as well. Even though this is a rare occurrence, it is important to be aware of the risks associated with jet lag and take steps to lessen its impact.

Dealing with Jet Lag

As we’ve talked about throughout the article, jet lag is a common and frustrating side effect of long-distance travel. It can make you feel tired, disoriented, and unable to sleep. But why is it a thing? It occurs when your body’s internal clock is disrupted by crossing multiple time zones, leading to confusion between your internal clock and the local time at your destination. Fortunately, there are several ways to minimise jet lag and get back to feeling like yourself again.

Maintaining hydration and engaging in regular exercise are two of the most crucial things you can do to reduce jet lag. It’s crucial to drink lots of water and stay away from alcohol and caffeine throughout your travel because dehydration can make jet lag symptoms worse. Also, regular exercise might help you sleep better by keeping your body’s internal clock in sync.

There are other ways to treat severe jet lag besides making these changes to your lifestyle. Prescription medications like sleeping pills or melatonin can be effective for some people, but it’s important to talk to your doctor before taking any new medications. Light therapy, which involves exposing yourself to bright light at certain times of the day, can also help reset your body’s internal clock and reduce the effects of jet lag.

Adding more to the strategies that we have mentioned so far, using high-quality sleep products at home, such as the best mattresses, pillows, and other sleep accessories, can help you achieve more restful and restorative sleep too. It’s particularly essential for travellers who spend a lot of time on the road or in the air to invest in high-quality sleep products to help them combat the effects of jet lag. We have the best sleep products and accessories information available as well if you want to have a look.

With a supportive and comfortable mattress and pillow, you can get a better night’s sleep overall, feel less pain, and be less likely to wake up with aches and pains. So, if you’re adjusting to a new time zone, filtering out unwelcome light using a sleep mask or blackout curtains might also help you sleep better.

FAQs on Jet Lag

Q: When will jet lag go away?
A: The length of time that jet lag symptoms last depends on the person and how bad their jet lag is. Generally, it takes about a day to recover for each time zone crossed. For example, if you travelled from New York to London, which is a 5-hour time difference, it may take approximately 5 days to fully recover from jet lag. However, this is not a hard and fast rule, as some people may recover more quickly or take longer to adjust to the new time zone. Additionally, factors such as age, health, and sleep habits can also influence how quickly a person recovers from jet lag.

Q: When should I call the doctor?
A: Most cases of jet lag can be managed with self-care and lifestyle adjustments, and medical intervention is not typically necessary. However, if your jet lag symptoms persist for an extended period or are particularly severe, it may be worth consulting with a doctor. Additionally, if you have a pre-existing medical condition or are taking medication, it’s important to speak with your doctor before travelling to ensure that you’re taking the necessary precautions and that your medication schedule is adjusted accordingly. In some cases, prescription medication may be recommended to help manage jet lag symptoms, but this should only be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional. If you experience any severe or concerning symptoms, such as seizures or severe stomach problems, seek medical attention immediately.

Q: How can I prevent jet lag?
A: You can take a few straightforward actions, as we previously discussed in great detail. Some of these, for instance, include changing your sleep schedule, consuming lots of water, abstaining from alcohol and caffeine, getting enough sunlight, and considering using melatonin as well. These are not only very easy to use but also, unquestionably, highly effective over time.

Final Words

Yes, jet lag can be a frustrating experience; it always has been. but there are many things that you can do to minimise its effects. By preparing for your trip, utilising sleep aids during travel, adjusting to local time, and practising good sleep hygiene, you can reduce the severity and duration of jet lag symptoms. Additionally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and taking care of your body can help prevent jet lag from occurring in the first place. If you do experience severe or persistent symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention to ensure that there isn’t an underlying health condition causing your symptoms. By following these tips and taking care of yourself, you can enjoy a restful and rejuvenating travel experience for sure. Remember, getting a good night’s sleep is essential for your health and happiness, whether you’re at home or on the road. So, sleep well and have safe travels!

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