Life Travel

Sleepless tales: dealing with the lack of sleep and a jetlagged life

14th March 2019

Sleep. Some crave it like air because duh.
Some run on adrenaline and have no desire to waste even one more hour being idle.
Even as a teenager, I’ve never been much of long-hour sleeper: I would not be sleeping until 12pm on a Saturday (also because I was going to class on Saturday and I wasn’t allowed to really go out until I came of age)… unless we are talking about the 6-month Spanish Erasmus stint, when I could easily go to bed at 7am and wake up well into tea time. On the other hand, I am not an early riser either: having always struggled to function in the morning, I still hate waking up early to travel/work even more now in adult life because it takes me a good 20 minutes to remember what’s my name and where I am opening my eyes that day (not joking: once I had to Google map myself). I cannot say I have a history of sleeping poorly over the years but yes, my family has never been in bed before midnight for most of our lives. My newly found insomnia is strictly jetlag-related, regrettably. And while I get better a few days after I land (handling it much better when I go to America than when I fly to Europe) I am sleep-deprived fairly frequently.Studies show that catching up with lost zzzzs over the week in a sleepathon fashion over Saturday and Sunday is no help: there is no tangible improvement unless obtained with a thoughtful routine based on consistent sleep. Well, we kinda knew this but now science confirms it…

So what are frequent flyers, crazy travellers and no-so-young-anymore freelancer with a bicoastal life to do?

This is what works for me, even if not systematically (and most definitely I have trigger situations that make these remedies fail like period, headache episodes or back-to-back jobs and deadlines) but they are worth a try.
– Melatonin: I love Olly gummies but afaik they do no ship outside the USA yet.
– Music: my favourite is Ryuichi Sakamoto piano album. Amore and Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence are the songs I also played at my wedding.
– Exercise: training in the gym is supposed to energise you and then make you relax. Working out in the afternoon works for me because after that I’m tired and after a hot shower I’m ready to rock the bed.
– Audiobooks: Audible and other app to listen to readings can help you fall asleep. I believe it’s similar to music.
– Reading: if I start reading a book in bed, I normally get sleepy (but not if I really am into the story!)
– Massage: well, good old massage to release tension – but it’s not at hand most days.
– Calm app: this app is free but to unlock further functions you have in-app purchases. Relaxing scenarios, white noise and music can help focus on your breathing.
– Old fashioned nap: when I’m seriously jet-lagged I do find myself napping more often. The shorter the better, though: or your night sleep will be compromises, especially if you’re not a usual napper.
– Sleep app, to monitor your cycle: I tried this for several months over the summer to check whether I was snoring (I do snore sometimes) and also to check how deep is my sleep.

I’m told that these also work – but I’ve not tried them myself:
– Meditation and breathing: never been able to do it but meditation is one of the most-suggested answers readers gave me relating to sleep patterns and remedies.
– Herbal tea: not infallible but certainly relaxing for the gut and the body.
– Pet therapy: I’d love to have a cat to try this!
– ASMR: I personally hate this – I cannot stand any of these noises and the person doing it makes me irritable but hey, some of my friends rave about it.

Of course if you were to suffer from actual insomnia – which causes are several and sometimes start at earlier age too – I recommend you see a specialist. I won’t ever be able to run on 4-hour sleep nights but for some that may be the rule. And you?

What is your pattern? I’m curious about your experience – and your tips.

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  • Reply Alina Cincan 14th March 2019 at 5:42 pm

    ” I had to Google map myself” :)))))))) I really laughed out loud at this one. Sadly (or fortunately, as I’ve never needed it), I have no actual advice. I have never had issues with sleep (I can sleep almost anywhere – I have pictures of me sleeping on the plane, train, bus, coach, with the hand on the computer mouse, you name it!). I also go to bed after midnight and hate waking up early! As for ASMR, I have yet to find one that doesn’t annoy me 🙂

  • Reply Dani 27th March 2019 at 10:16 pm

    Over the last three weeks, my sleep went from 11pm to 4:40am since I had guests at my house. Now, it goes from 8:30pm (max. 10:00pm) to 4:40am.

    Last night I had a hard time -I woke up almost every hour. I found a meditation video on YouTube, that suits me well: the voice of the woman guiding the meditation relaxes me and helps me to sleep.

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