Jet lag has been a major challenge for travelers when they return home from vacation. Your internal body clock, or circadian rhythm, needs more time to catch up and adjust, and it can be quite some time before travelers fully get back on track with their schedule and improve their sleep habits.
Sleep schedules and daily routines are also being impacted by current situations, such as the pandemic or workers heading back to the office.
Sensei Lāna’i, a wellness experience found at Four Seasons resort in Lanai, Hawaii, founded by Larry Ellison and Dr. David Agus, recently introduced a new program that explores the importance of rest and tips on how people can improve their sleep amidst disrupted cycles. The Optimal Wellbeing Program at Sensei Lāna’i is an in-depth diagnostic and data-led initiative that was designed to help guests awaken their “optimal” self through technology and experiential learning. The program also features a partnership with WHOOP to help measure performance across the board, from fitness to sleep tracking.
Whether you’re coming home from vacation or getting back into a routine post Covid-19, here are 3 simple ways to improve your sleep, according to Sensei’s Head of Wellness Research, Dr. Vishal Patel.
The benefits of a consistent sleep schedule
Humans cycle through several phases of sleep at night and these cycles are part of the intrinsic circadian rhythm, which is influenced by the timing of a person’s activities every 24 hours, which can include exposure to light and darkness, timing of meals, exercise time, etc.
These activities influence the synchronization of each person’s internal clock, so by waking up at a consistent time each day, the body becomes trained to wake up at the optimal juncture in our sleep (during light sleep).
A consistent bedtime trains the body to release the sleep hormone, melatonin, at the same time each day, allowing for better sleep. Optimally, people should allot sleeping and waking times to allow for five to six full cycles of sleep – each cycle lasts approximately 90 minutes – which is between seven-and-a-half to nine hours.
Are you getting enough good sleep?
The best way to diagnose sleep quality is to check in right when one wakes up in the morning – before that cup of coffee! Grogginess or grouchiness are symptoms of being woken from deep sleep. If there are feelings of disorientation, it may be because they woke up in the middle of REM sleep.
To help address these issues, Sensei’s team of wellness Guides and practitioners emphasize the importance of more consistent bedtimes and waketimes to improve sleep after vacation.
3 simple ways to improve your sleep after vacation, according to Sensei’s Head of Wellness Research, Dr. Vishal Patel
Curb caffeine intake. For optimal sleep, the Sensei Guides recommend stopping caffeine up to 12 hours before bedtime – and by 2 or 3 p.m, at the latest.
Feeling a mid-day crash at the office? Find an herbal tea that can substitute for that afternoon cup of coffee – and an afternoon walk for a pick-me-up! Even dark chocolate has small doses of caffeine, so it’s important to watch after dinner desserts.
Eat dinner earlier. The after effects of digestion, including acid reflux and bloating, can interfere with the ability to fall asleep.
Allowing more time after dinner not only allows the digestive processes to subside, but also allows time for the muscles and brain to use up any glucose floating around in the blood after dinner, instead of it getting stored away as glycogen or fat for later use. This is one of the best ways to improve sleep after vacation.
Eat meals and snacks at the same time daily. Meal timing exerts a significant influence on circadian rhythm, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
Eating meals and snacks at consistent times helps train the rhythm of internal signals, including cortisol and melatonin, which helps support more consistent and restorative sleep.
Facilitate optimal sleep time
Adults can expect to spend up to 20% of their night’s sleep in deep sleep, and this decreases naturally as we age.
How can you facilitate this stage of sleep?
- A warm bath at night has been found to increase SWS, as well as reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.
- Caffeine reduces the time spent in SWS
- Exercise increases the time spent in SWS – evening exercise might increase your heart rate, so it may take longer to fall asleep, but, once you fall asleep, it helps you get more SWS.
- Socialize – social exposure has been found to correlate with a greater proportion of time spent in SWS, and this effect has been seen in ages ranging from college students to the elderly.
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