Of the many challenges that come up during this time of year, one of the demands on our health and energy is the one we probably ignore the most.
Sure, there’s parties, catch ups and more parties but there’s also likely to be travel. The parties can disrupt our circadian rhythms, but travel sends them into overdrive.
Circadian rhythms are how many of the body’s internal systems are synchronized with the master or biological clock regulating the sleep-wake cycle.
Travelling through time zones, sleeping at irregular hours, and eating late at night are just some of the ways the circadian rhythms will go haywire.
But there are ways to get onto this and knock it on the head quickly so that within a few days you’re back to normal.
If I travel to Los Angeles, I land there at 6am. I don’t go to bed or nap at the hotel. I spend the whole day in the sun to get as much light into my eyes as possible, helping my body adapt to the different time frame pronto.
If you don’t do that and feel tempted to snooze, you’ll struggle, and your holiday won’t be the only thing to suffer. You’ll also find it much harder to get your body clock back in synch, inhibiting your health, eating routine, sleep patterns and energy levels.
From the minute you get on the plane, you need to start thinking of being in the time zone of your destination. Leave your home base behind mentally, emotionally, and physically. Think about being at your new destination, before you get there. Usually, the airlines help passengers begin the adjustment process, serving meals and turning down the lights, in alignment with the forthcoming time zone.
Some people choose to take melatonin, but I prefer to work with my circadian rhythms naturally.
We know that, when it starts to get dark, your body produces melatonin to prepare you for bed so if you eat a large meal, it interferes with melatonin production, raises your body temperature and makes sleep more difficult. If you’re trying to get to sleep, your body temperature needs to be at the lowest point, so I always suggest to not eat a big meal on the plane when you’re trying to sleep.
Work with your body, finding its rhythm and it will work well for you in return.