Planning a long-haul trip for 2019? Here's how to manage the toll it takes, writes Christopher Babayode.
Become a napper
Make sleep quality non-negotiable by switching from sleeping in one main block to sleeping in cycles by adding short planned naps. Do this by planning the nap duration and sticking to it, so as not to fall into deep sleep and wake up groggy. Another consideration is not to nap too close to bedtime.
Entrain your brainwaves
The quality of deep sleep suffers during travel, typically because it occurs early in the night. To make up the shortfall, consider using entrainment apps. These apps use combinations of binaural beats, isochronic tones, psychoacoustic music and pink noise to entrain the brain and encourage sleep.
Clue into cues
Melatonin, the body's sleep onset hormone, is sensitive to light. Controlling exposure to natural and artificial light sources of the blue wavelength variety helps the body read the environment for the right cue to start the sleep sequence. Managing this process can be as simple as wearing blue light-blocking glasses after dusk or using blue-light-blocking apps on computers.
Roam? Become Roman
Other cues from which the body takes its time signals include social interactions, activities and routines. When trying to acclimatise to new sleep patterns, whenever possible take the maxim "When in Rome do as Romans do" to heart. That means no late nights or unnecessary stimulation close to bedtime.
Cap the caffeine
As a traveller, having a predefined cut-off time for all caffeine consumption is useful for two reasons. First, the time it takes caffeine to be digested by half (known as its half-life) is between four to eight hours. This means a slow metaboliser of caffeine could still experience its energising effect when it's time for bed. Secondly, one way its influence is felt is by attaching itself to adenosine receptors, which play a role in building sleep pressure. Caffeine abuse challenges this mechanism.
Christopher Babayode (nojetstress.com) is a sleep expert and former flight attendant.