When you're traveling, maintaining a regular sleeping schedule can be tricky business. Excitement might keep you up the night before, adrenaline kicks in the moment you land, and it's no secret that airplane seats don't make the most comfortable beds. Throw in a time zone change, and suddenly you're yawning through lunch and wide awake at 3 a.m.
To prevent spending your next vacation walking around in a daze, we asked health experts to weigh in with advice for keeping your sleeping schedule on track when you're multiple time zones away from your own bed.
What to Pack
Your favorite pillow. Anyone that has woken up with a stiff neck in a hotel bed understands the importance of sleeping on your own pillow. Dr. Robert Oexman, Director of the Sleep to Live Institute, tells travelers that the familiarity of a person's favorite pillow makes it much easier to fall asleep in different, unfamiliar locations.
A lightweight blanket. This one's mainly for the journey, as airplanes tend to get very chilly, especially in window or exit row seats. And as Dr. Oexman reminds us, it's much easier to put on and take off a blanket than a piece of clothing.
An eye mask. Even if your body is tired, light can make it harder to fall and maintain sleep. Dr. Oexman recommends an eye mask to help your body adjust to the new time zone and get some much needed Z's when you need them.
Your scent. He also suggests using one scent in your bedroom at home and never in any other location. "This will allow you to associate that scent with sleeping. There is a small amount of research on lavender, but I believe any scent you associate with sleeping is good for use. When you get to your new location, place the scent on or in your pillow or place it near the head of the bed."
Once You've Arrived
Ease up on the coffee. Dr. Fred Pescatore, a natural health physician and best-selling author, tells us, "Although caffeine is a quick fix, too much of it only makes getting to sleep more difficult." Instead of ordering a double espresso, he recommends trying a natural caffeine-free supplement to curb fatigue and balance sleep. "I like Robuvit, an extract from French oak wood. Research shows it helps ease fatigue symptoms and boosts energy naturally." Apple cider vinegar and hot lemon water are also known to be great natural energy boosters.
Limit the cocktails. Hey, you're on vacation. So if you want the wine, order the wine. But Dr. Oexman recommends taking it easy with booze while your body is adjusting, especially later in the day. "Avoid alcohol late in the evening and moderate during the day. Alcohol is well-known for putting people to sleep, but it will decrease the quantity and quality of your sleep later in the night."
Get active! "Exercise is a great way to adjust to new time zones and promote healthy sleep," says Dr. Oexman. This doesn't mean burn hours of your vacation in the hotel gym. Instead, get adventurous. Look up options for hiking, bike rentals, surf lessons, walking tours, etc.