Going on a long flight can be exhausting, and traveling through time zones can really make you jet lagged, potentially throwing off your sleep schedule for the duration of your trip. Maybe you’re aiming to hit several different places in a short amount of time (i.e. traveling through Europe or bouncing from Bali to Thailand to the Maldives). In any case, the stress of traveling, especially internationally, can really screw up your biological clock, and we don’t want that happening.
Lack of sleep can cause several icky side effects, like impairing your mind’s ability to focus, making your brain seem foggy, and resulting in a lack of alertness. It can also lead to higher blood pressure and irregular heartbeat, and it can really kill your sex drive. Aside from that you’ll have to deal with dark circles under your eyes and dull skin, ew.
Here are 7 ways to ease jet lag au natural, giving you the sleep you need so you can enjoy an action-filled vaca.
1. Get lost in some words.
Bringing a book on the flight is a great idea, especially if it’s a red eye. Reading calms the mind and body and eases tension, diverting your focus from thinking about a million different things to the story that you’re reading. It’s a good idea to try and get some sleep on the plane, especially if it’s a long flight since you’ll most likely want to enjoy your destination once you land. It’s also a great idea to keep a book with you on your trip since you can also use it to wind down after a long day while laying in your hotel bed before catching some Zzz's.
2. Stock up on lavender.
Lavender is known in aromatherapy as a really effective scent to calm the senses and help relax the mind and body. Some great ideas include keeping a small lavender body wash in your bag for when you take a shower at your hotel or wherever you plan to stay, bringing a candle to burn while you get ready for bed (but be sure to blow it out before falling asleep!), bringing a lavender scented Wallflower to your hotel, or mixing a few drops of lavender essential oil with a carrier oil in a small bottle and using it as a body or massage oil. You can also dab a little on your temples when you need to just find your center during a stressful day or before bed.
3. Bring some melatonin on board.
Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep/wake cycles, and our bodies naturally produce it when the sun goes down signaling to our body that we should wind down for sleep. However, certain activities, especially flying, can cause it to go a little out of whack. To get things back in order, you can take melatonin as a supplement, which can be found in most drugstores. Follow the directions on the bottle for the proper dosage in order to help ease restlessness.
4. Start your day with cherry juice.
Believe it or not, studies have shown that drinking a glass of tart cherry juice in the morning—and one at night—can help you get an extra hour of sleep. Why? The juice is rich in melatonin (the hormone we just talked about), and can help regulate that sleep/wake cycle. Drinking tart cherry juice in the morning and night can help beat jet lag by keeping your body’s sleeping cycle on track, and allowing for you to fall asleep and stay asleep at the right times.
5. Set aside relaxation time.
Maybe you’ve made it to your tropical destination and you’ve been fitting as much as you can into your day: a hike, a bike ride, a trip to this awesome vegan restaurant you saw on Instagram, a cooking class, shopping, dinner, and what are you missing? A chance to breathe. Sometimes piling too much on our plates can really screw with our head and make us feel like our thoughts are racing. We become too “wired.” Opt to take an hour or even 30 minutes out of your day to relax. Maybe put on your favorite podcast and sit by the pool, enjoying a solitary and peaceful moment.
6. Meditate and chill.
Having too many thoughts going through our minds can really keep us awake at night, and mixed with the exhaustion we might feel from traveling, the lack of sleep can really start affecting your body. You feel sluggish and are dealing with mental fog. You feel overly emotional. If you start feeling negative emotional effects from your lack of sleep, try finding your center through meditation, even if it’s only a few minutes. Headspace is a great app for meditation and you can take it virtually anywhere as long as there is some wifi or a data connection. The best part is the meditations are only 10 minutes long and perfect for on-the-go.
7. Give chamomile a try.
Drinking a hot cup of chamomile tea before bed can help you unwind from a flight or from a long day of being a tourist. You can either make it where you're staying by packing some chamomile tea bags with you and then boiling water when you get to your destination, or maybe you’re strolling through London where you can just pick up a cup of chamomile tea at a local coffee shop. Either way, chamomile is known to have sedation effects similar to a mild version of an anti-anxiety medication like Xanax.
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