How Do You Sleep Well When Traveling To A Different Time Zone

July 18, 2019

Traveling or moving to a new place is an exciting prospect. Sometimes, you might even be going to a place with a different time zone, which can need some time and effort getting used to. Depending upon the distance you undertake, you can assess the difference between the night and day between these two places. For instance, your sleep habits in the UK might go for a toss if you are traveling east towards Asia. Perhaps, this is why, seasoned travelers are often plagued with jet lag, incomplete sleep, lethargy, and sometimes, even insomnia. During such times, it is difficult to even think about a rem sleep cycle length much lest know how to power nap.

(Img Courtesy: Nectar Sleep)

It is obvious that none of these are pleasant to experience, but one cannot escape their wrath. However, there are ways which can help you minimize the impact and eventually negate them as the time goes by. 

Acclimatize Your Body Clock 

So, before you set your wheels to a foreign land, you need to be aware of the place’s time zones, weather, and other factors. By understanding the time difference beforehand, you can train your body to sleep as per the schedule of the place to visit. For instance, if the place you are has sunrise 3 hours earlier than you location, wake up 3 hours earlier than sunrise to make your body accustomed to the impending schedule there. Tuck yourself early to bed and rise before the sun.

(Img Courtesy: Dreamcloud Sleep)

Keep Jet Lag At Bay

Easier said than done. Jet lag is that uninvited friend that comes along every vacation and refuses to leave. Try these tips to fight jet lag:

  • Try not to sleep too much on board.
  • If you cannot keep your eyes open, limit your nap to 2 hours. 
  • Try melatonin (under medical consultation). This helps set the internal body cycle and help you fall asleep fast and at the right time. 
  • Try keeping busy and stay engaged by reading a book or talking to people. 

Health And Nutrition

Going to a foreign land means exploring new culture and cuisines and soaking in the new experience. So, diet and health can take a back seat right? Wrong! New land means new environmental factors and even pathogens that you might not be immune to. Many travelers end up with a sick body as a result of digestive problems or allergies. 

Do a thorough research about the place you are visiting, the medical obligations and how you can protect yourself better. Take the necessary vaccines and treatments from your doctor and arm yourself with good health. 

As a precautionary measure, you can also deploy healthy room accessories for yourself like Nectar’s anti-allergy duvet, essential oils, and many more to help you rest in peace and allow your body get a full night’s sleep .

(Img Courtesy: Nectar Sleep)

Bring A Part Of Home

You can either bring your favorite pillow or your comfortable PJs that remind you of home and adds familiarity to the already erratic sleep pattern. You wish you could bring your own comfy Nectar mattress in a box or those 4 x 6 area rugs, but things certainly do not work that way! 

The scientific reason behind bringing something with you is to trick your brain into believing that you are home, amidst your comfort space which will enable it to shut off easily and help you sleep better without interruptions.

Do Not Nap

Napping right now is your enemy. It does not matter how tempting the hotel bed looks or how inviting your room looks, do not choose to nap. Remember your body is asking you to nap, because it is still not able to break free of the previous time zone and is craving rest.

Avoid napping until the local bedtime. It will be hard on the first day, but longer the time you are up for, the easier it is to train your body clock to don in the new time zone. This self control is important to set or re-adjust your body clock and also, minimize the effects of jet lag. 

(Img Courtesy: Nectar Sleep)

Check For Time Of Arrival And Adjust Accordingly

Expose yourself to light optimally if your arrival to your destination is during the day. Go for a walk or explore the areas to allow your body to adjust to the sunlight faster. You may not exactly feel social the first time you land, so stick to the basics like breakfast or dinner to help our body understand the new time zone and habits. If you land at night, hit the sack. You can use this sleep to recuperate and of course, get in line with the time zone. 

Hydrate All The Time

It often happens that travelers in their excitement of exploring new places, forget to hydrate. It is like traveling and dehydration go hand in hand. Avoid that prospect as it can dry your skin and it is difficult for a dehydrated to function properly much lest, adhere to a new time zone.

Ensure A Restful Sleep At Night

It is understandable that one might find it difficult to fall asleep in a new surrounding and messed up internal body clock, but it is essential to get a restful night in order to get the most out of your vacation. Furthermore, if you are on a business trip, it is even more important to be in tune with the local time of your visiting country as you are going to be a busy man about town. We do not want that meeting going bad as a result of a sleepless night, do we?

(Img Courtesy: Awara Sleep)

Close the drapes and cover any light that might be emitting from your computer, smartphone, television, or any other device as it will affect your circadian rhythm and make your more alert. Light is a stimuli that our body naturally reacts to, making us more alert and downsizes on sleep time. 

Do Not Reach For Alcohol

A cold beer or a glass of crisp wine is what one would reach out to start the vacation on a high note. However, as vacation worthy as that thought is, it is not advisable to take that sip, especially if you have just arrived. This will not only mess up with  your mind but also dehydrated, leading to headaches and lethargy. Is this how you want to start you vacation?

Reset Your Watch

Resetting your watch is yet another way to trick your mind into believing that the new time zone is the natural one for you and thus, functions as per the new routine without affecting the body clock drastically. 

(Img Courtesy: Awara Sleep)

Pack A Travel Candle

Travel candles are perfect travel companion that do not take up too much space and also help you lull into a deep slumber. Try using aromatherapy at home a couple of days prior to trip and carry the same essence in order to maintain a sense of familiarity, enabling your body to relax, and fall asleep easily. 


Travel is the best thing you can do to learn about and explore new cultures. However, while traveling, it is important to keep track of your sleep patterns to enjoy your break to the max. Those on business trips can use these tips to stay alert throughout their meetings. 

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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