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Travel Fatigue; How Not to Feel Tired This Holiday

Tara Youngblood


Travel Fatigue

The holiday season, for most, is an enjoyable time of year. However, much of what makes holiday breaks so enjoyable can also make them draining. Right after November, that downhill run to the end of the year is filled with a variety of disruptions to our daily schedules.

Often we’re out later at Christmas parties, eating rich food and drinking more cocktails, beer, wine, or eggnog than usual. There’s stress associated with heading to the shopping centres on that final run to get everything on our list—especially for those with children. For some, reflecting on our past year’s successes often proves difficult since we’re trying to finish every last item on our year-end to-do list, be it personal or professional.

Does Traveling Make You Tired During the Holidays?

Unfortunately, these disruptions can all be compounded for those who travel over the Christmas break. If you’re already feeling run down, jumping in the car or hopping on a plane has the potential to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, leaving you exhausted during a time of year you should be using to recharge. So today we’ll discuss how to not feel tired while you travel this Christmas.

There are a variety of different factors that can cause you to become run down over the break. We touched on some of the reasons why in the introduction, but now let’s dig a little deeper into the culprits that typically leave you feeling physically and emotionally drained in December, and how you can combat them.

Work to Reduce the Effects of Jetlag

When traveling long distances, it only exacerbates any exhaustion we’re already experiencing. Since it’s related to sleep, one of the top questions we get is around how to reduce jetlag. Here’s some good advice about what to do before you travel from

“Adjust your habits before you leave. For example, if you’re traveling from the East to the West Coast of the U.S., you’re facing a three-hour time change and you should try to adjust your internal clock. A few days before you leave, try to stay up a little later than usual, and sleep in a little longer. If you become accustomed to falling asleep at 12:00 a.m. and waking up at 8:00 a.m. on the East Coast, it will be the same as falling asleep at 9:00 p.m. and waking up at 5:00 a.m. on the West Coast, getting you one step closer to the time zone you’ll be in. Traveling west to east, do the opposite: Get up and go to bed earlier.”

The article also notes to remain as hydrated as possible before and during a flight since being dehydrated or hungover only amplifies the effects of jet lag. Upon arrival to a destination, it’s also important to stay up till bedtime/nightfall—no matter how hard it is—so that you (and your circadian rhythm) can adapt more quickly.

If you’re still struggling, you can try mild sleep aids such as melatonin or No-Jet-Lag. Ultimately, if you’re traveling you probably can’t take your OOLER® or your Cube Sleep System with you, so control what you can control—which is your bedtime above all else.

Watch What You Eat and Drink—and Keep Exercising

We just mentioned controlling what you can control, so diet and exercise rank right behind a consistent sleep schedule. During the Christmas break our penchant to overindulge—on items like grandma’s chocolate pudding!—is higher simply due to temptation. All the parties and gatherings add up, and often we don’t find the healthiest food options in those scenarios. Simply by taking the time to consider our diet for the week ahead, we can make smarter choices at those meals, or before and after them so we can enjoy those parties and gatherings to the fullest.

Dehydration aside, alcohol has the potential to disrupt our sleep patterns, too. Alcohol, especially when we go overboard, negatively impacts our overall recovery, weakens our heart rate variability (HRV), disrupts our circadian rhythm, causes us to go to the bathroom in the night more frequently, and can restrict airflow, which leads to snoring. The key to food and alcohol is to strike a balance between having a good time and not overdoing it to the point that you suffer the consequences the day after.

Compounding the change in diet in December is a busy schedule that makes it harder to exercise. You’ll probably have to adjust your exercise schedule, but make sure you’re squeezing it in whenever possible—even if it’s just taking a refreshing walk around the block or utilising your hotel’s gym. It will not only help you sleep better at night, but it can energise you to help you get through those times when you’re feeling stretched thin.

Be Proactive About Dealing with Family Stress

For some people, travel itself is the easy part. That tired feeling, for others, comes simply from being around family. When figuring out how to deal with family stress, it’s also all about controlling what we can control, much like with diet, exercise, and your sleep routine.

This article offers helpful tips for this, and there are two, in particular, we subscribe to:

Identify a coping strategy for family stress or anxiety: Whether it’s taking that quick walk to remove yourself from a situation or sneaking away to your bedroom to meditate, having a game plan to deal with stress triggers beforehand can make a huge difference.

Don’t forget that you’re an adult now: Going home for Christmas means we often fall into old patterns, patterns that were established when we were adolescents. But things are different now: you’re an adult and have the power to dictate what upsets you, and how you deal with it.

Don’t Forget: Make Time for Yourself, Too

The last piece of advice we’d offer to help you avoid feeling tired is to carve out time for yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in the Christmas grind, but feeling emotionally drained before, during, and after the break only ensures that you’ll start the new year feeling the same way. And before the calendar turns to a new year it’s more important to reflect on the past year’s successes, and use that as an opportunity to map out goals for the next 12 months.

As this article lays out, making time for yourself is difficult, but also critical. This could include taking the time to meditate each day, or something as simple as doing something you enjoy, like going to a movie. Sure, the holiday breaks are for spending time with those you care about most. But including yourself in that list is totally okay, too.

Do you have tips that help you stay energised during the Christmas season? If so, we’d love to hear them.

About Tara Youngblood

Tara Youngblood is ChiliSleep’s co-founder and CEO. An accomplished scientist, author, and speaker, Tara’s unique ideas are revolutionizing the future of sleep health by making sleep easy, approachable, and drug-free.
Learn more about Tara.