If you’re travelling across time zones, it can take time to adjust and you’ll find yourself getting a little sleepy during the day. At this point, you have a choice. You can go with the natural option and find somewhere quiet to take a quick power nap, or you can opt for the chemical solution and consume some caffeine to pick you up. But which is the best choice?
Choose Your Flights Carefully
One thing you can do is try to arrive at an ideal time, if you are able to land in the evening and go straight to a hotel and go to sleep that will help you adjust to your new time quicker than if you have to force yourself to stay up. Some people are good at sleeping on airplanes, I am definitely not one of them! Sometimes it can be a little more expensive to book a more ideal flight, but with Hotwire.com you can save a bit on your booking and set yourself up for being as well rested as possible.
Sleep and Noise Don’t Mix: Get Headphones!
One of the contributing factors to jet-lag, and stress in general, is noise. The loud jet-engine noise you’re exposed to for hours on end can affect you even after you leave the flight. Getting some budget headphones with noise-cancellation and you’ll significantly reduce your stress levels during your flight.
Sleep deprivation links to a host of physical, cognitive and emotional health problems. Indeed, one study in Greece found that people who nap had a 40% lower risk of heart disease. Therefore, if the body needs to sleep, let it — unless this would interfere with regaining a regular sleep patterns for your new locale. Caffeine is also believed to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and dementia, so it’s not a bad second choice. There are tablets and herbs that can help you with sleeping as well that aren’t sleeping pills!
You don’t need much time to nap; one study at Flinders University in Australia found that just 10 minutes was the optimal time. However, even though some workplaces offer “nap rooms,” (you’ll probably see standing desks in the same building), the idea has not been widely adopted, and the average worker will struggle to find a suitable nap spot. Home workers and the self-employed may fare better, but on this score, caffeine is the clear winner.
Many studies show that caffeine improves reaction time and information processing in tired individuals. Napping, to the extent that it removes tiredness, will also do this, but it has an additional benefit. People show better recall of tasks they were doing before they took a nap. So take advantage of this by reviewing any information you need to remember just before you go to sleep.
Researchers at Loughborough University, England compared the impact of caffeine and naps in sleepy individuals just before a driving test. Their study showed that while both options were equally valid, some people were not able to fall asleep on cue. When it comes to driving, however, why not play it safe and do both? Stop at a safe place, take a nap, and then get some caffeine.
If you take caffeine when sleepy, you are using a chemical stimulant to keep the body awake when it wants to sleep. Although sleep is not fully understood, you have to assume that your body has its reasons. So wherever possible, take a 10-minute nap if you get tired (as long as you’ll still be able to sleep that night). If that’s not possible, consume some caffeine instead.