Travel Tips for Healthy Journeys
Travel, whether for business or pleasure, disrupts our health routine and sets the stage for stress and disruptive sleep patterns. Increased stress and a lack of restorative sleep, in turn affect our overall well-being. They can suppress the immune response and set the stage for illness. Therefore, it is important to have strategies to decrease stress and promote sleep when we travel.
Mindful breathing can be practiced anywhere; it is free, convenient, and can be done as often as needed. A simple exercise such as breathing in to a count of five, holding the breath for a count of five and breathing out to a count of five can be very calming. This activity counteracts the body’s stress response by activating the parasympathetic nervous system and helps us relax. Not only can this strategy decrease stress, but it can also promote restorative sleep patterns.
It is common to suffer sleep disturbances when traveling, often because of time zone changes, being in a new environment, stress, a change in daily routine or the tendency to skimp on sleep to do all that we want or need to do. While prescription medications can help promote sleep, they may disrupt our natural circadian rhythm and ultimately can make sleep less restorative.
Mindful breathing and meditation can both assist with promoting a healthy night's sleep. Melatonin has been shown to effectively promote sleep, and has other health benefits such as promoting immune health and healthy circadian rhythms. It is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. Although melatonin is relatively safe, prior to taking this or any supplement, check with a qualified health care provider, such as a nurse practitioner. These strategies, along with nutritious eating, can provide the necessary foundation for healthy travel.
John D. Gonzalez, DNP, APRN, ACNP-BC, ANP-C, is the owner and nurse practitioner at Holistic Integrative Health, PLLC, in Coppell. For more information, visit HolisticIntegrativeHealth.net.