Beat The Holiday Blues: Natural Ways To Combat Jet Lag
Now that international travel is slowly getting back to normal, many of us are packing our bags and getting ready for a long-awaited trip abroad. But while you’re probably excited to see the sights and make memories this summer, you may also be wary of the dreaded jet lag that can come with long-haul travel.
Jetting between different time zones can really interfere with our body clock and circadian rhythm, meaning that it can take a few days or even longer to get back to your normal sleep pattern. To help you beat the holiday blues and feel rejuvenated, health and wellbeing experts Pukka Herbs have shared their top tips and best natural remedies to overcome jet lag.
For short trips lasting a few days, many travellers simply stick to their home time zone to prevent jet lag from hitting in the first place. If your destination is only a few hours ahead or behind what you’re used to, then you may want to keep your sleep pattern the same as normal. This means you don’t have to change your body clock all over again when you return home in a few days’ time.
However, for longer trips lasting a week or more, it’s best to accept and acclimate to the new time zone as your exposure to daylight and different work schedules will start to shift your circadian rhythm anyway (Sleep Foundation). Whether it’s for business or pleasure, before you travel across time zones try to plan ahead and allow yourself some extra time in the first few days for gradually adapting your sleep schedule.
Returning to routine
When you’re adjusting to a different time zone — be that arriving abroad or returning home — a great place to start is getting active outdoors. Incorporating some movement into your day, especially in the morning or late afternoon, will help you feel more naturally tired when it’s time to go to bed. Not only this, but getting enough sunlight during the day adjusts the body’s circadian rhythm to its surroundings, helping you know when it’s time to wake up or go to sleep (Cleveland Clinic). So, while working out might feel like a struggle when you’re tired, lacing up your trainers for a run or a brisk walk outside will help you start overcoming jet lag.
Similarly, naps can be very tempting when your body clock is out of sync, but it’s generally best to stick to a regular sleep pattern when getting back on track. Depending on the time difference you’re experiencing, try to go to bed 30 minutes to an hour earlier each night until you’ve readjusted: after this, aim to go to sleep at the same time each night. However, if you’re really struggling to stay awake after long-distance travel, naps might be unavoidable. If so, aim to keep them short (around 20 minutes) and nap earlier in the day to avoid any disruptions to your night’s sleep.
Caffeinate with caution
When we’re overtired, we often reach for caffeine and sugar to give us a boost throughout the day. Coffee and sugary drinks might wake us up in the short-term, but they can also cause our energy levels to crash soon after, as well as interfere with our sleep. As well as avoiding any caffeine after lunch, it’s wise to switch to gentler sources of caffeine such as green tea and matcha, which can offer a much better way of fighting fatigue.
Unlike coffee, green tea and matcha have a moderate amount of caffeine that is released more slowly and sustainably in the body. This is because they contain two important compounds called EGCG and L-theanine. L-theanine has a calming effect on the brain, which helps to balance the stimulating effect of caffeine. Green tea and matcha can therefore help you feel more alert and focused throughout the day, but without the typical spikes and crashes associated with coffee or sugar. ECGC acts as an added bonus, as not only is it a potent antioxidant, it is also an anti-inflammatory compound that is particularly effective on the brain.
So, why not replace your morning coffee with an energising green tea blended with refreshing herbs like peppermint? Or, for a dose of morning vitality, opt for a zingy matcha tea that can give you a natural, slow-release pick-me up without the afternoon slump.
Natural sleep remedies
When returning from a different time zone, you may find yourself wide awake late into the evenings. As well as getting enough exercise and natural light during the day, it’s important to create a calm, comforting atmosphere in your bedroom to help you sleep better at night. First, it’s a good idea to remove any distractions such as screens and devices. While it can be tempting to watch television when you’re up at night, too much artificial light will interfere with your already-disrupted circadian rhythm. Instead, draw the curtains and create a dark, sleep-inducing environment a few hours before bedtime. Curl up with a book or a listen to a podcast to give your eyes a break from screens and let your body know it’s time to unwind.
If you’re still struggling to drift off, try incorporating caffeine-free herbal teas into your nightly routine. Look out for organic blends with ingredients like chamomile, lavender, valerian and limeflower, as these can all help to calm the mind and nervous system to prepare you for a deep, restful sleep. Chamomile and lavender are well-known for their soothing abilities, due to their high levels of essential oils. As well as the nightly ritual of a comforting cup of tea, you could also enjoy these soothing herbs by adding a few drops of essential oil to your pillow.
Saf Hareshe, Herbal Education Specialist at Pukka Herbs commented:
“Sleep is one of the fundamental pillars to our physical and mental health, but it can be easily disrupted by external stressors like travelling. A regular, intuitive sleep routine that works for you is always important, but even more so when recovering from jet lag. If you’re re-adjusting to a new time zone, considering factors like natural daylight, exercise and diet is key to resetting your circadian rhythm.
“So, before you reach for another coffee or give into long, unplanned naps, remember that there are smarter ways to overcome jet lag and reset your body clock. Soothing herbal teas can help you drift off more easily during restless nights, while taking the time to plan and prioritise a strong sleep routine can help you return to normality and beat the holiday blues before you know it.”