How to Sleep Well When Traveling to a New Time Zone

How to Sleep Well When Traveling to a New Time Zone

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

Whether you’re traveling for work or pleasure, adjusting to a new time zone can be tough. That’s because your circadian rhythm is at work! This internal clock, which helps inform your body when it’s time to go to bed or wake up, takes awhile to catch up when you travel to a different time zone. It sticks to your usual schedule, so if it’s nighttime back home, your body may still think it’s time to go to bed—even if it’s the middle of the afternoon where you’re vacationing.

Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule when you travel starts with limiting jetlag. The best way to help your body adjust to the new time zone is to work with the sun. Getting into the sunlight can help sync up your internal clock with the new time zone—but the time of day that you get outdoors is important. If you travel eastward, you’ll want to soak up the sun in the morning. But if you fly west to get to your destination, get outside later in the day or in the early evening if the sun is still out.

Even if you do experience jetlag, do your best to avoid napping once you arrive at your destination. If you can stay awake until 10:00pm local time, it will be easier for your body to adjust to the new time zone. (It may help to choose a flight that lands in the evening, so that you don’t have to force yourself to stay awake for too long.) Then, once you do go to bed, set yourself up for sleep success. Avoid alcohol and caffeine before bedtime, and keep the bedroom clear of cellphones or anything else that may disturb your sleep. When you wake up, you should be better adjusted to the new time zone.