May 5, 2014

Overcoming Jet Lag the Yogic Way. ~ Joan Hyman

Joan Hyman

I travel internationally about every other month teaching workshops and teacher trainings on three different continents.

People ask me how I managed to stay balanced flying around the world the way I do and acclimating to different time zones. Sleep has become a ritual for me, something I prepare for, meditate on and pray for!

I need deep sleep to be able to be alert and present for my students. I needed to find a way to get good quality sleep on these trips, as sleep deprivation can accumulate and cause a variety of problems such as increased anxiety, risk of hypertension, obesity, depression, heart attack and just being straight up delirious.

Sleep is important and deep sleep heals.

It’s important to understand that deep sleep heals the body, the mind, and our spirit. Our daily dose of shut-eye regulates our weight, strengthens our immunity, protects our health, repairs our tissues and cells, and restores our energy. Sleep also allows us to process situations in our lives by balancing emotions, helping us to better solve our problems, and feed our creativity.  When our mind becomes quiet in deep sleep, our energy in our heart chakra increases and we wake up feeling more inspired to move through our day.

Here are some strategies that are helpful in creating deep sleep:

Create a ritual before you go to bed to calm your energy down. 

Excessive worry, activity and traveling can all disturb the spirit and activate the mind—making it near impossible to fall asleep and stay asleep. Try rubbing an ayurvedic oil (I use sesame oil for us vatas) all over the body in a circular motions paying attention to joints to reduce any swelling especially from flying. Wait about 20 minutes allowing the oil to soak in and jump in the shower or a warm bath to rinse it off. Some of my favorite essential oils including lavender or peace and calming are also extremely healing for the nervous system and aid in the relaxation response that puts us in a state of healing and grounding.

Try warm milk before bed or any kind of valerian tea or herbal tea with relaxing herbs.

Avoid alcohol before bed because it will disturb deep sleep and can create anxious dreams usually waking us up in the middle of the night creating some type of hyperactivity.

When traveling and adopting to time zones I will take melatonin to keep me asleep.

I find it helps me get through the first couple nights of jetlag.

Turn the lights down and do restoratives like legs at the wall (Viparita Karani) using an eye pillow to add some weight to the eye sockets.

This helps my brain relax and eyes to stay shut.

Yogi Nidra tapes or any type of stress release meditation tapes are great for producing REM sleep.

If stimulated easily, stay off the computer and avoid TV shows that create any kind of fear or worry. 

It’s best to shut all electronics off before bed and soak in this quiet time with a warm bath and light reading instead.

Avoid eating at least two hours before bedtime and try to make dinner the lightest meal.  

Eating late will stimulate our digestive system and also can create disturbing dreams.  When traveling, this may be hard but better to sleep through the night and wake up on an empty stomach.

These suggestions don’t just apply to overcoming jet lag, but are great support for good deep sleep at home. Make sleep a priority! When we do what is necessary to take care of ourselves and promote healthy sleep, it is easy to see how the quality of life improves as we commit to these rituals before bed.  We can see that we become more inspired, joyous, and actually excited for each day to begin.

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Apprentice Editor: Melissa Horton/ Editor: Catherine Monkman

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