We live in an amazing time, you can step into a metal tube and a handful of hours later arrive in a different area of the globe, thousands of miles from home. The speed of travel has allowed us to conduct business on any continent and created connections that we never could have imagined a few generations ago. We love traveling and appreciate the benefits of being exposed to a new culture and different ideas.
We also realize how hard travel can be on the body, both the physical act and the inability to keep training while on the road. With that in mind, we’ve put together a three-part blog on maximizing your performance while you’re off globetrotting, be it for business or pleasure.
Part 1 (below) will provide you with a few helpful tips on controlling your sleep and making sure you maximize your recharge time.
Travel can wreak havoc on your sleep patterns. Between the awkward flight times, the far too small plane seat and the potential time difference it’s no surprise that you are wide awake at 4 am binge-watching Brooklyn 99 on Netflix. We want to help reduce your sleep disruption and make sure you maximize your downtime. Here are our 3 quick sleep tips.
Regulate light exposure –
Our bodies are regulated through a cycle known as our Circadian Rhythm. This biological process is roughly 24 hours long and regulates the release of chemical substances in our body that directly influence our alertness based on the time of day. Our exposure to light also has a direct influence on our CR and subsequently our level of alertness.
Even if your eyes are closed the light will permeate your eyelids and start drawing your body out of the deep REM sleep we so desperately crave. The light exposure is not limited to sunlight alone, the strip lighting or the glow from your cellphone/ laptop will have a similar effect. Heavy curtains and a sleep mask are two great ways to avoid light exposure. We also suggest putting all electronics on airplane-mode and in a location that cannot disrupt you to avoid being woken during the night.
Melatonin and Caffeine –
Caffeine is a polarizing topic in the health and wellness space and the debate is never-ending. We at Championship Lifestyle love coffee (in moderation) but I’ll save the caffeine debate for a later time. Caffeine obviously has the ability to facilitate an increase in alertness and energy. Its antagonist, mentioned above, is Melatonin, a chemical produced naturally that helps to relax the body and prepare it for sleep.
The travel schedule and time difference will often disrupt the regular release of Melatonin, particularly light exposure mentioned above. It will delay the release of Melatonin and cause prolonged alertness at odd hours. We can combat this by supplementing with Melatonin 1-2 hours before bed. It will help relax your nervous system and increase your ability to fall asleep at an appropriate time.
The opposite is true for caffeine, supplementation coupled with sunlight shortly after waking can jump start your nervous system and help expedite your adjustment to the present time zone.
Supplementation combined with controlled light exposure will go a long way in minimizing jet lag associated with lack of sleep.
Screen Free –
Our last tip on improving sleep is a topic that is slowly gaining traction and receiving more emphasis. It ties in with our previous point of light exposure and the effect on our circadian rhythm.
In addition to providing a light source, the screen also stimulates our nervous system at a time when our body is attempting to enter a parasympathetic state. Several studies, based primarily out of Scandinavian countries, have shown a significant link between screen time prior to bed and decreased the ability to recover. They are also linking potential predispositions towards Mood Disorders and Insomnia as a result of our habitual screen starring.
Our suggestion is not a new one but merits repeating, put your electronic devices on airplane mode and turn them face down an hour before bed. Instead of checking an email or watching Netflix, grab a book, (not a kindle or kobo) a real paper and ink book. Allowing your nervous system an opportunity to power down will decrease the length of time it takes you to fall asleep and improve overall sleep quality.