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How to Balance your Sleep Rhythm During Travel

The importance of getting enough sleep while traveling cannot be overstated. Not only does sleeping well help you to stay alert and focused during the day, it also helps to reduce stress levels and improve your overall health. Unfortunately, many travelers find it hard to get adequate rest while on the road. To ensure that you are getting the amount of sleep needed for optimal performance, there are a few steps you can take before and during your travels.

Spend lots of time outside

Exposure to sunlight can help your body reset its internal clock. Studies have shown that spending time outside can increase the quality of your sleep and sleep patterns. A vitamin D supplement can also help sleep when sunlight is not as readily available.

Above and beyond increase sleep quality, time outside benefits mood and mental health. Too much sunlight can cause skin damage from ultraviolet light, so sunscreen and protective clothing is also important. Mineral sunscreens often include zinc oxide and titanium oxide, which are safer than a lot of ingredients in chemical sunscreens. Mineral sunscreens are also harder to rub in and may leave a white cast on the skin.

Take melatonin

Taking a melatonin supplement around sunset can help your body prepare for sleep and adjust to the time change. Starting this routine a few days before at your destination country’s time zone can also help. Supplements aren't subject to FDA regulations, so pick a reputable brand after doing some research.

Long-term use of melatonin has not been studied, but short-term melatonin use during travel is safe and effective for sleep. Melatonin supplements can be found at the grocery store or at vitamin stores. The Vitamin Shoppe is a national chain with a variety of supplements available.

Sleep mask & ear plugs

A sleep mask can help block out light to help you get the sleep you need. Ear plugs can also be helpful to decrease distractions in loud environments. Hotels, Airbnbs, and other accommodations can be noisy with neighbors, animals, and traffic. White noise apps can be downloaded on your phone, or small, portable white noise machines can also drown out other sounds.

It may also be helpful to get familiar with your sleeping environment ahead of time, if possible. For instance, look into noise-canceling headphones to create a more comfortable atmosphere for restful sleep. Additionally, you can purchase items such as travel pillows and cozy blankets to make the experience of sleeping on the go much more pleasant. Sleeping on trains, airplanes, or in cars can be difficult, but not impossible.

Stay hydrated

It’s important to take into account any jet lag that may occur when traveling long distances as this can disrupt your normal sleep pattern. To help reduce its effects, try avoiding caffeine and alcohol throughout the day of arrival and focus on maintaining regular eating and sleeping habits throughout your journey.

Being dehydrated can increase fatigue and make it more difficult to overcome jet lag. Drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water per day is a general guideline to follow. This can be a hard goal to hit when bathroom facilities are not as accessible as normal. Flying also dehydrates you more than other modes of transportation due to the lack of humidity in the environment.


Visit Away Clinic at any of our Arizona locations to make a travel health appointment. Receive pre-travel immunizations, advice about insect repellents, and recommendations for prescriptions to ask your physician for. Get protected today and have safe travels tomorrow!


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