The holiday season is a time of joy, when families and friends gather together to celebrate traditions, reminisce about the past, and simply spend quality time with people they may not have seen in quite a while. However, the holidays also include travel, which, no matter the time of year, takes a toll on your body and your brain.
Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a once a year vacationer, if you travel by air, you’ve probably experienced the less than desirable effects of jet lag. According to The Sleep Foundation, it was believed for years that jet lag was merely a mental issue. Recent studies have shown that jet lag affects our physical and emotional states due to the disruption of our circadian rhythms, which are behavioral, mental, and physical changes that follow a daily cycle. These rhythms are affected by exposure to light, which helps determine our sleep cycle. When we cross into different time zones, our bodies become confused, and we begin to feel the effects of jet lag, such as:
- Feeling sleepy all day but wide awake at night
- Anxiety, confusion and poor concentration
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Headache, nausea, indigestion, and dehydration
- Decline in physical and mental performance
Combined with heightened holiday stress, jet lag can have an increased effect on our already worn-down bodies, especially during this time of year. Experts do recommend several strategies to help minimize the effects of jet lag on our bodies and minds–but many of these suggestions can be difficult to accomplish. Your body will typically adjust to your new environment at a rate of one time zone per day. Traveling a day or two ahead may allow for recovery time prior to big holiday gatherings. If that’s not possible, you can mimic the new time zone while still at home by gradually adjusting your home time to the time zone of your destination. However, this may not always be possible due to job and family responsibilities.
Other helpful suggestions include making sure you get plenty of bright spectrum light in the morning once you’ve arrived at your new destination. This helps shut down melatonin production and wakes your brain up for the day. Conversely, if you’re traveling at night, wear glasses that block the blue light from electronic devices which can keep you from getting much needed rest on the plane. Once you reach your destination, get up as early as possible and get outside. This will help reset your melatonin production.
While these are all suggestions that can help you alleviate the physical and mental discomfort jet lag causes, one of the easiest and healthiest solutions of all is to take a few minutes and do some braintapping. When you land at your destination, listening to an AM session will recharge your brain, allowing you to enjoy the rest of your day. Continuing to do this each morning – before your morning cup of coffee – will keep your body regulated to your new environment and help you begin each day at peak performance. At night, we highly recommend using our Healthy Sleep Habits series or a PM session to help you fall asleep quickly and stay asleep, giving your brain the rest and rejuvenation it needs each night.
Don’t let the stress of holiday travel ruin this special time of year. Click here to enjoy a 15 Day Free Trial and get back to the happy, healthy you this holiday season!
Jet Lag and Sleep. (2017, October 13). Retrieved from https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/jet-lag-and-sleep