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Sleep Science

Beat Jet Lag With Science (And A Weighted Blanket)

We’ve studied up on the best science-backed tactics for sleep-conscious traveling and are happy to report back with the best proven tips to beat jet lag.

6 minute read

SLEEP SCIENCE

Beat jet lag with science (and a weighted blanket)

6 minute read
wonderful weighted weaves girl in napper red

Whether you’re an experienced traveler or only jet off once in a blue moon, the effects of jet lag can cause major life and health disruptions. Jet lag can sabotage our travel itineraries and drain our energy. It disrupts our body clock and causes sleep issues, brain fog, fatigue, poor productivity, and stress.

Fortunately, we don’t have to slave through jet lag for weeks while things gradually return to normal. There are several ways to fight jet lag – and even prevent it in the first place!

We’ve studied up on the best science-backed tactics for sleep-conscious traveling and are happy to report back with the best proven tips to beat jet lag.


Key tactics to beat jet lag


From supplements to sleep tricks, sleep experts have studied the best ways to combat disruptive jet lag. We love taking the natural route, and thankfully there are tons of effective, natural ways to stay on schedule and make the most of your trip.

Get in the zone
Time to get your head in the zone – time zone that is. When you get to the airport, change your watch, smartphone, and laptop times to the zone you’re heading to.

Act according to this new time zone. Is it nighttime there? Try to sleep. You’re on a redeye but it’s daytime at your future location? Settle for a light nap, catch up on movies, or do some reading. This will mentally acclimate you to your destination before you even leave the plane.

Once you arrive, set the scene. Be diligent about putting yourself in the mental state for sleep even if you don’t feel like it. Dim the lights in your room, turn off all electronics at least an hour before bed.

Come morning, get up at your normal time or even a little early, open all windows and let light flow into your room, and eat breakfast to cue the start of the day.

Action Steps

  • Set your watch to your destination’s time zone.
  • Repeat on your voyage home. Set your physical and mental clocks to your next destination.
  • Create the right environment for sleep or wakefulness by making use of light/darkness and avoiding stimulation.

Ingest intelligently


Supplements, caffeine, and diet choices can make all the difference when it comes to a successful, jet lag-free trip.

Melatonin supplements are a well-researched lifehack for travelers (and poor sleepers in general). Melatonin is the hormone that lulls us to sleep and controls our circadian rhythm.

Dr. Charmane Eastman, a jet lag expert, found that an optimal dose of 1-3mg of melatonin taken an hour or two before your bedtime at the new destination can help improve the brain’s ability to acclimate to the new zone and avoid the effects of jet lag.

Your food choices while traveling also have a huge impact. Avoid filling up on airport fast food and alcohol. Plan to bring some rescue snacks like nuts, fruit, cherries, and dark chocolate. These foods are healthier choices while traveling and actively boost your brain’s melatonin.


chocolate

Did you know?
Traveling east causes bigger problems with jet lag than traveling west.

Mealtimes play a part, too. Just as you’ll manage your sleep schedule based on your new time zone right away, adjust your mealtimes as well. Your eating habits give your brain hints as to what time it is, so avoid eating huge meals when it’s three in the morning at your planned locale.

What about caffeine and alcohol? Use them wisely.

Caffeine can be a helpful tool in avoiding jet lag when used strategically. For instance, a small amount of caffeine (such as from green tea) before you take a nap on the plane can prevent you from falling into a deep sleep and keep you on track with your scheduled plan.

When you land in Hong Kong at noon but it’s bedtime in Boston, it’s okay to sip a latte to get through the day. If you’re craving a caffeine hit after 2 or 3 P.M., however, hold off. It will disrupt your sleep later that night, so go for a walk or exercise to perk up instead.

As far as alcohol goes, it’s best to keep your distance for at least 48 hours. While it may help you fall asleep easier, alcohol prevents quality sleep and will leave you feeling tired the next day. Stick to soothing herbal teas like chamomile or kava which gently relax the body and mind (and don’t forget your melatonin).

Action Steps

  • Invest in a quality melatonin supplement.
  • Prepare travel snacks that encourage healthy melatonin production like fruit and nuts.
  • Sip strategically. Use caffeine mindfully and skip the cocktails for the first night or two.

Be your own drill sergeant


One of the most important ways to fight jet lag is by keeping as normal a sleep routine as possible. Sticking to a sleep schedule is always important, as it helps protect our natural body clock, reduce stress, and balance hormones. When traveling, this is even more important.

The first step is to plan ahead. Understand the changes in your time zone and consider whether you are flying East or West, as this will impact your body’s response. Plan what time you’ll hit the bed once you get in (try to make this as naturally aligned with your new time zone as possible) and avoid naps, sleeping in past 9 A.M., or staying up past midnight.

Stick to the schedule and your brain will get the message quickly without the exhaustion and confusion that comes with bouncing sleep times.

Once you return home, the same rules apply. Make your plan of attack and stick to it!

Action Steps

  • Stay on a strict sleep schedule before, during, and after your trip.
  • Plan your bedtime for your first night and stick to it.
  • Avoid naps and sleeping in.

Treat yourself like a traveling houseplant


If you remember anything about beating jet lag, make it this dead simple idea: consider yourself a globe-roaming, deal-making, sight-seeing, houseplant. What do plants need most? Sunlight and water.

The jet lag-busting effects of natural sunlight or even light therapy are amazing. If you are blessed to be traveling to a sunny locale, spend as much time outside or near a sunny window as possible. Sunlight is an environmental cue that helps your brain interpret what time of day it is.

Gazing at a brilliant sun when you would be sleeping back home will help your brain relearn what “time” it is and adjust your sleep wake cycle naturally.

Water is the other key ingredient to beating jet lag. Planes are infamous for dehydrating us and unfortunately dehydration only worsens jet lag. Drink plenty of water (skip the beer and sodas) throughout your flight and make an effort to drink an extra glass or two than you normally would once you settle in.


glass of water

Action Steps

  • Drink plenty of water during your flight and throughout your travels to stay hydrated.
  • Dim the lights in the evening and put stimulating lights (such as from smartphones) away 1 hour before bed.
  • Spend as much time in the sun or sunny rooms during the daytime as possible.

Prep and recover like a pro


Perhaps one of the best ways to beat jet lag is to have a healthy relationship with sleep before and after your trip. When we are well-rested, our bodies are much more likely to cope with changes (like time zone and climate) gracefully than if we are sleep deprived.

Before your trip, be sure to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep under your weighted blanket. Weighted blankets provide better quality sleep and help to reduce the effects of daily stress. As your trip comes closer, you won’t miss a minute of sleep due to travel anxiety or stress.

It’s unlikely you’ll be able to take your Bearaby Napper with you (although we support the idea!) so make sure to prioritize healthy sleep when you return. Traveling bodies and brains need lots of rest. Climb under a weighted blanket hug and recover from your big adventure.

Action Steps

  • Stay on a strict sleep schedule before, during, and after your trip.
  • Plan your bedtime for your first night and stick to it.
  • Avoid naps and sleeping in.


Bearassentials

• Jet lag is a total drag. Disrupted sleep schedules can negatively affect your energy, productivity, stress, and overall health.


• There are natural ways to combat jet lag. Pre-travel planning, steady sleep habits, and some helpful melatonin and sunshine can do wonders.


• Improve your brain’s ability to fight jet lag by keeping up on quality sleep with your weighted blanket before and after your trip.

line

Did you know?
Traveling east causes bigger problems with jet lag than traveling west.


THE LAY LOW

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