You’re in Fiji and scheduled to swim with the turtles this morning. The vibrant colours of the rising sun reflect off the pristine water and the wildlife below the water’s surface stir… But your eyes are barely open, and you cannot muster the energy to enjoy it because in Sydney it’s 4am and at 4am your body says you’re supposed to be asleep!
Enter jet lag. A common sleep disorder every traveller is familiar with where your body clock operates to its usual time zone when you’ve travelled across to a new one. Once thought to be a state of mind, studies have now shown that it is caused by an imbalance in our natural body clock or circadian rhythm.
Here’s some tips to help kick your circadian rhythm into sync with your new time zone and make the most of your holiday:
Adjust your sleeping patterns in the week leading up to your trip
Find out if your destination is ahead or behind your current time zone and then in the lead up to your trip adjust your sleep time by 15-minute increments each day. Later if your destination is ahead, earlier if it’s behind.
Arrange to arrive at your destination in the early evening
Stay awake until 10pm local time then go to bed, and wake with the sun in your holiday time zone.
Abstain from alcohol and caffeine in the evening
Alcohol may put you to sleep but it will not be restful, and caffeine as a stimulant will keep you awake (and can take up to 8 hours for your body to completely eliminate).
Create a sleep-friendly environment
This could mean using earplugs or a blindfold to block out noise and light whilst sleeping. Another idea is to bring an object from home like a pillow, to make the environment feel more familiar.
- Change your watch to your destination time zone when you board the plane
- Get some sun! Daylight is one of the main components when it comes to regulating your body clock
- Avoid heavy meals before bed
- Do not do any heavy exercise close to bed time
- Abstain from alcohol and caffeine in the evening
Daylight during holidays is too precious to be spent sleeping in a hotel room! Follow these steps to enjoy every single minute.
Safe and happy travels!