Traveling a lot, especially around the globe means you change time zones often. It also means travelling in a different part of the day or night. Sleep disorders can be a real problem as you’re sleepy and tired during the day or too active during the night. How to fight jet lag and sleeping problems?

Jet what?

What is this "jet lag"?

Jet lag is a name for the process of disrupting your circadian rhythm. Your body works 24 hours a day and there is time to sleep, eat, work etc. Moving between time zones makes your body go crazy which results in symptoms like loss of appetite, sleeping problems, memory and concentration problems and many more. Sounds serious, right?

 

I feel terrible!

How long will I recover from jet lag?

There is no simple answer. Every person feels jet lat differently. Even more – depending on age, health, stress level the time to recover can be changing throughout your life. But usually, it’s a day to “heal” a full-time zone travel. There are some tips how to speed things up and some stuff to avoid if you don’t wish to suffer more.

Top tip

Sleep is the best cure for jet lag. But how to get a good night sleep if you’re having problems? Try to make it a habit! Use one of the apps that I recommend to practice sleeping well. As your body will get used to it, it will be easier for you to apply it during travelling or after changing time zones.

Mobile apps

Nightly

Still in beta, but worth downloading as it will have its premiere soon. Sometimes the biggest problem with sleeping are nightmares. Nightly helps you to fall asleep and dream only positive or neutral dreams. Just watch a nice and calming short movie in bed and try to drop off during a soothing sound of rain or cracking fire in a fireplace. Nightly monitors your breath and plays sounds to help you sleep calmly.

 

Twilight (blue light filter)

One of the great problems of mobiles, computers and any other portable devices is the blue light they use to radiate. With the Twilight app, you have the chance of avoiding problems with falling asleep. You certainly know this feeling when you read in bed something on your mobile or tablet and the blue light irritates your eyes. Interfering with such light even a few hours before going to bed can make it difficult to fall asleep for an hour. This is due to the photoreceptor of melanopsin, which can inhibit the production of melatonin (a hormone responsible for sleeping and waking up) precisely because of a certain range of blue light. To avoid this, use the Twilight application that warms up your cell or tablet screen after sunset. The program works on all Android devices.

A similar f.lux application exists for computers. PS. a newer version of Android has also this option in the system.

 

Sleep Genius

An absolutely cosmic idea (literally!). There was a research conducted on astronauts. It turned out that it is best to sleep in 90-minute packages, with short intervals between. Sleep Genius is exactly an app to do that! 5 cycles of 90 minutes + sleep breaks. If we are to get up, at 8 a.m., we count down 7 and half hour for dreaming, 15 minutes for falling asleep and the time when we are not sleeping between the cycles (4 breaks). For a week we try falling asleep at the same time listening to specially prepared music (totally cosmic!). Over time, if we are consistent, our brain gets used to resetting with these sounds. In addition, we can play a melody to start the day – not an alarm clock that tears us out of sleep, but again, a composition that will help us get out of the deep sleep phase. You should listen to the sounds of Sleep Genius quite quietly, but on stereo. Over time, not only will you sleep better, but you will easily be able to take a nap for a moment and wake up refreshed.

 

Sleep as Android

The famous Android app. Monitors your sleep (breathing), helps you wake up at the right time (monitors when you are in deep sleep, REM ect.), can record snoring or talking oversleep. Very advanced sleep statistics, lullabies, alarm clocks, data export, various options, 14 days trial version, then ca. 4 euro (payable once). Can be connected to a smartwatch. I really enjoyed using it.

 

 

Mindroid

Do you need relaxation, sleep or other positive emotions? Mindroid will try to tune your brain to your needs. Put the mobile in front of your eyes, close them and start listening to the right composition. Thanks, to auditory-visual stimulation, the program tunes our brain to what we care about. Not sure if it works, but try it yourself.

There are several programs to choose from.

 

 

 

Traveling with children? “Baby sleep” will help!

Every parent knows what makes his/her child go to sleep. Some need a hair dryer, other car sounds, some need mothers heartbeat. But during a trip, this can be sometimes really hard to obtain. If so, then just download Baby sleep and let it help you put your little one to bed. 14 sounds that are in the app should cover most of the queer baby lullabies. But what if yours is so unique that even the “in utero” sound can’t help you? Don’t worry! Just record the sound you need and voila! You can choose up to 8 hours of looped sound. Too short? There’s also a never-ending loop. Not sure if babies feel jet lag as same as we do, but if you wander how to fight with jet lag of your kid – that’s the best way I know.

The app also has volume buttons and a very, very important button – fly mode. That way no instant notification can wake up your baby. Just remember not to put the mobile too close to the infant. Sleep tight 😉

 

Do not combine work and bedroom. Generally, it’s never a good idea.

Monika

Gadgets

Headphones for sleeping

When you want to listen to music or relaxing sounds before bedtime or while sleeping, a few models of headphones fall off: ear-bugs – can damage your hearing capacities. Dampen, large ear muffs – absolutely uncomfortable sleeping in them. Cable – threatens suffocation at night. Headbands back of the head – we will not sleep on our back or on the side. In fact, the best solution is a small wireless headset or earphones. A great example are headphones integrated into a hat. They are soft, they do not jam sounds and do not cause major injuries.

Smartwatch

It will help monitor your sleep, work like an alarm clock or let you operate part of the application (in an example “Sleep as Android”). A well-chosen smartwatch is a nice “friend” on every hand. The most important thing is to make it compatible with your phone or tablet and support applications that interest you. You can sleep comfortably in it. I have Samsung S3.

 

How to fight with jet lag? Do not forget about the obvious

  1. Choose a good pillow, mattress and bedding. If you CAN choose 😉 Some hotels offer pillow changing. Try avoiding sleeping on a plane – neither is it a good sound sleep nor does it help.
  2. Lower your stress level before the flight (a good idea is to have a long night sleep before) and try flexing your daily routine to make it more similar to the one you’ll be having at your destination. Even with meals.
  3. If you want to take a nap during the day – that’s a great idea! It’s very healthy. But try not to do it on the day of the arrival to the new time zone. Best – get there during the day (catch as much sunlight as you can). It will make it easier to adapt and then go to bed. Try to sleep the amount you would normally sleep (7-8 hours). If travelling east – you may stay in dark for some time to adapt.
  4. If you use earplugs watch out for infections! Wash them often. And please – be careful with small stuff. Some earplugs have little parts that might “fall” into your ear! (I had such a situation so I know something about it…)
  5. Do not combine work and bedroom. Generally, it’s never a good idea. If possible do not keep papers, ironing or electronic devices there. If you go on a business travel – go working to the cafeteria.
  6. Make the travel the best you can. Choose better transportation, buy a business class or first class and if going further – break the trip into parts. Having a day off in a city in the middle of your route can be as good for your health as exciting (new places to see).
  7. Do not overheat the bedroom and do not forget to air the room before and during sleep.
  8. A lot of things do not help in good sleep (and coping with jet lat as well). This includes alcohol, coffee, sleeping pills and eating too much. If you really need to “meet” Morpheus try herbal tea. Avoid jet lag pills – usually, they don’t work.
  9. If you need to stay awake while recovering from jet lag avoid coffee, energetic drinks, Coca-Cola and so on. A tea will do and often a good way is just to drink water! Staying hydrated is also very important during travelling. And don’t forget some exercise.
  10. “West is best, east is a beast” means that travelling west is less problematical to our bodies since we feel better during a long day rather than shorter one.
  11. During the flight, there are some things to remember. Set your clock for a destination time. It will help your mind to set to new reality. Keep blood pumping – there are several on-flight exercises one can do, as well as many helpful things like flight socks. Walk from time to time, drink loads of water and relax (take off your shoes, belt, don’t wear slimming panties).
  12. Not enough sleep can lead to obesity, lying, stealing or even treason. Jet lag is also very dangerous, so watch out!

Do you have your own tips on how to fight against jet lag?

Sources/bibliography & further read

When interested in medical issues Google always has something like WebMD (cheaper, but you always end up screwed). For those who prefer more sophisticated reading, I chose the Guardian.

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monika

Working in social media since 2006. Created her own agency called Wobuzz. Blogger at czaplicka.eu. Published a book on social media crises. Often giving lectures at conferences where she gets rewards for best speeches. Working with brands around the globe. Likes her tech.

Travels a lot! Especially workwise to big European cities.

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