5 Tips to Overcome Jet Lag
I love to travel, especially to foreign countries. I find that when I immerse myself into another culture, the deeper my love for humankind grows.
In fact, I’m headed to Italy for the summer. While I’ve been to Italy several times, it’s been a dream of mine for quite some time to experience what it is like to live in another country and immerse myself in its culture.
However, as someone who prides myself in getting a great night’s sleep, dealing with jet lag can be a real bummer. Despite my excitement of being in a new place, sleep typically wins out, resulting in my falling prey to a 3-hour nap at the most inconvenient times.
Dr. Matthew Walker wrote about time zone shifts in his best-selling book “Why We Sleep”. He says that for every day a person is in a different time zone, the body’s master clock (the superchiasmatic nucleus) can only re-adjust one hour.
One hour for every day! That means that my trip from the Pacific time zone in the U.S. to Europe will take 9 days for my body to fully adjust. For most people, that would be the entire vacation, resulting in the need to re-adjust as they get back on the plane and head home to a time difference of 9 hours earlier.
There must be an easier way.
As it turns out, by understanding how exposure to light, activities, and food intake impact the circadian rhythm, there are things that can be done to overcome the jet lag blues.
5 Tips to Overcome Jet Lag
1) Stand barefoot on the ground. That’s right! Kick off those shoes and go find some grass. This practice is called grounding. The earth has an extremely low electromagnetic frequency called the Schumann Resonance. This resonance varies slightly depending on the time of day, time of year, and location on the planet. We are electric, too, with our brains often resonating at a similar frequency to the planet. By standing barefoot in the new time zone, the body will feel the resonance of the earth. This is a major communication signal that will help reset your biorhythm to the new place and time.
2) Do an activity that aligns with the local time zone. We are meant to be active during the day and passive at night. So, while it might be tempting to grab a cup of coffee or succumb to a long nap during the day, first try going for a walk outside. Conversely, if you are arriving during the night, try soothing activities, like light stretching or meditation, to calm your mind and body.
3) Eat local foods according to the local time. Start your trip right by enjoying foods that are both in season and local to the area. And, be sure to eat in alignment with your new time zone. This means breakfast in the early morning, and dinner in the early evening. As with all meals, strive to be complete with eating 3-4 hours before the local bedtime. This will help your body heal any stress from travel while you are asleep and will support the realignment of your circadian rhythm to the new time.
4) Avoid artificial light at night. One of the biggest factors impacting the body’s sleep wake cycle is the presence of light. While blue and green frequencies of light are both natural and necessary during the day, these same frequencies after sunset disrupt the circadian rhythm.
With respect to a time zone change, if its daylight back home, exposure to artificial light will keep your body thinking that it is still daylight, inhibiting the release of melatonin, thus prolonging your body’s ability to adjust to the new time and place.
My favorite sleep accessory, especially when I am traveling, are my VIVARAYS.COM glasses. (Enjoy 15% off with code UPLIFT). Their orange and red lenses allow me to gradually adjust my eyes’ exposure to light.
Try to avoid screen-time, and consider packing and using red light bulbs in your hotel. Traveling with a small roll of black electricians’ tape is a convenient way to cover any ambient light sources from clocks, smoke alarms, thermostats, or televisions in the room.
5) Adjust nighttime bedroom temperatures. The body naturally cools itself to stimulate the release of melatonin and trigger sleep. In addition to partaking in calming activities after sunset, if possible, adjust the temperature of the room to somewhere between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
I plan to use these tips myself the moment I arrive in Italy, and will post my adventures on Instagram @AngieNicolucci. When you decide you are ready to hop on a plane and venture into a new time zone, I hope you will try out these tips and let me know how they work for you.
Would you like more tips and discussion to support your sleep? Let’s keep the conversation going. Join my Facebook Community “Healthy Sleep, Home, and Life”.
Until next time (and safe travels!)…
Sleep Coach, Sleep Science Coach, Functional Medicine Nutrition, Building Biology, Environmental Health, Spiritual Psychology, Sleep Better Now