How to avoid a sleep debt when you travel!

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Travelling and vacations always bring in mixed feelings. There is the thrill of visiting new places and meeting new people but also the anxiety that comes from the journey itself. Odd flight timings, long hours of travel, jet-lag, strangers around, and sleeping in a hotel room all tend to disrupt the body clock turning travel and vacation into a tiring rather than a joyful experience for many. Here are some guidelines on how you can make your vacation and travel more comfortable and enjoyable.

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Things to do before travelling

  • Advance booking of flight, train, or cab will avoid last minute panic and stress.
  • Search and book in advance, hotels that have gym, pool, and indoor-outdoor activity area. Book a child friendly hotel if travelling with kids.
  • Start adjusting your sleep and wake time several days in advance according to the destination's time zone. This will help you manage jet lag and help your body adjust quicker.
  • Book flights as per your sleep schedule:
    1. For short distance journeys avoid booking red-eye flights as they will disrupt your sleep cycle.
    2. For long distance journeys book flights that arrive at the destination in the evening. This way you can catch up on your lost sleep during the night at the hotel.

Things to consider while travelling

  • Carry things that will help you nap on the journey like inflatable pillow, ear plugs, eye mask, and noise cancelling head-phones.
  • Stay hydrated, avoid salty food, tea, coffee, and alcohol as they cause dehydration.
  • If possible upgrade to business class as it provides extra leg room to recline and stretch.
  • To ensure you have enough time to freshen up and be alert when flight lands at destination set an alarm 45 mins prior to arrival time.
  • When travelling by road take regular breaks to stretch and snack. Avoid night driving to ensure you are well rested for next day.

Things to follow at the destination

  • If you arrive during the day take a 30-60min nap and not more as it will amplify the effects of jet-lag.
  • If you arrive early in the evening then do not sleep immediately, have early dinner and then sleep.
  • To get your body clock in sync ensure that you spend more time outdoors during the day. Engage in some physical activity like hiking, walking, or playing a sport.
  • If you still feel jet-lagged and unable to sleep properly you can take some melatonin to help you sleep better.
  • Lastly, your body clock will adjust to the new environment faster if you continue to follow your normal sleep and wake cycle.

As travelling messes with your body’s natural rhythm, especially your sleep pattern, it is very important to plan and manage your sleep properly during the trip and come back refreshed.



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