How to Reset Your Sleep Cycle After Traveling
When you return to your regular schedule after traveling, getting your body to adjust again to a normal routine is easier said than done. In fact, it can even pose serious risks such as post-travel depression, which is often impacted by the drastic change in skipping time zones.
Today, jet lag is actually classified as a sleep disorder, albeit only a temporary one. It can lead to various unpleasant symptoms in the form of recurring headaches, loss of appetite, and even stomach issues, all of which only add to the challenge of returning to your normal sleep pattern.
Of course, there are ways to alleviate its effects on the body and hasten recovery. Here are a few simple steps you can take to reset your sleep cycle after traveling!
1. Resist the urge to nap.
After a long haul flight, you may want to kick off your shoes and head straight to bed no matter what time it is.
If it’s the right time, i.e. nighttime, then do so. But if your flight arrived at 10 in the morning and you barely slept on the plane, try and stay awake until your actual bedtime. Doing so will give your body a well-deserved rest while readjusting your internal clock in the process.
2. Stay away from alcohol for the time being.
Contrary to popular belief, taking a few swigs of alcohol is not a good idea if you're trying to fix your sleeping pattern. Time Health states that alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, but it can eventually disrupt your rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, or the deep sleep stages, later on. Until you’ve returned to a normal sleep cycle, stay away from alcoholic beverages.
Instead, stick with herbal teas, pure natural juices, and lots of water.
3. Spend time outdoors.
Light tells your body when it’s time to wake up.
Try taking an invigorating morning stroll if it’s sunny outside and continuously expose yourself to sunlight throughout the day. You might even want to acquire the healthy habit of walking in the morning and incorporate it in your daily routine.
In the absence of natural light, one recommendation is to manipulate your indoor lighting and go on a blackout at night which might do the trick.
4. Get moving.
The positive impact of exercise on sleep has been widely studied. Psychology Today relayed a recent research showing how consistent exercise brings about alertness to the body as well as a rewarding rest at night. The practice stimulates slow-wave sleep, the most restorative phase of sleep.
Getting back to a workout routine that you might have put on hold while traveling will be good for reinforcing your natural circadian rhythm.
5. Eat melatonin-rich food.
Melatonin is the hormone that regulates sleep and wake cycles, and you can boost its levels through your diet.
Leesa recommends incorporating melatonin-rich food such as cherries, bananas, berries, and melon. In addition to melatonin, some of these fruits also contain high levels of potassium and magnesium which are helpful for sleep due to their relaxing effect. Deep sleep is instrumental in re-calibrating your body clock.
Some final thoughts...
Resetting your sleep cycle post-travel may take some time, but it's time well spent. Sleep is the foundation of many activities and these easy ways will help create and maintain healthy sleeping habits. After all, traveling can take a toll on the body and you need to be healthy for your next vacation!
This article was produced in collaboration with Julie Simmons.