How To Successfully Spring Forward While Traveling

Read these tips and tricks from sleep and travel pros

Taking a trip during time changes can be exhausting, but it doesn’t have to be.


A disruption to your sleep routine can result in a whole lot more than fatigue and irritability. According to a study in the Journal of Applied Psychology, fatigue and sleep disruption caused by daylight saving time can lead to a loss in productivity, which, when you’re working, can be a bit of a problem—especially while traveling for business. “If daylight saving [time] in and of itself can hurt production, we must be especially cognizant of it when traveling for business, as well,” says Caleb Backe, a specialist in sleep disorders. “Traveling for business and especially across time zones can disrupt sleep patterns, which will inevitably cause fatigue. Coupled with daylight saving [time] changes, these productivity lapses can be twice as severe.”

The good news is that not only can you up your productivity by getting enough sleep, but you can also meet daylight saving time head on and kick the nasty side effects of the time change to the curb. Here, seasoned business travelers and sleep experts weigh in on the best jet lag recovery tips and ways to overcome time changes and daylight saving time while on the road for work.

Pass up a ticket on the red-eye

“I always try to skip the red-eye,” says Curtis Galvin of Phoenix, Arizona, who travels for work two to three times a month. “I don’t sleep well on planes, so losing a night of sleep on a red-eye is something I try to avoid.” The most common mistake if you simply have to take a red-eye: going into it tired already. Be sure to be well-rested before stepping on the plane by sneaking in a nap, if possible, the day before or getting a good night’s sleep before your trip to make jet lag recovery seamless.

Avoid alcohol

“I know, it’s tempting to order a drink first thing when you get in the airport, especially if you’re trying to calm nerves or even to help get some shut-eye, but skip it,” says Chris Brantner, certified sleep science coach at “While it may be great in the short term, alcohol is only going to compound the negative effects of not getting enough sleep. Even if it puts you to sleep, it won’t allow you to easily get into deep sleep, which is what re-energizes you.”

Manage stress

“If you travel for work, like I do, you are likely managing competing priorities between work and home,” says Charlotte, North Carolina, resident Peggy Cole, who has traveled to India, Panama and throughout the U.S. for work. “Plan ahead to reduce stress and make the most of your allotted sleep time. If you will be losing sleep because of the time change, don’t make it worse by lying in bed and worrying about all the loose ends you didn’t plan for. I also make time for my loved ones each night, even if I’m on the road. Having 30 minutes to check in lets me know everyone is well and helps me unwind before I head to bed.”

Embrace the sun

“Daylight has a huge impact on a person’s circadian rhythm, your natural inner clock,” says Parinaz Samimi, a sleep wellness expert at Sleep Train. “If you travel frequently between multiple time zones or are dealing with something like daylight saving time, even incremental time changes of an hour or two can lead to a debilitating jet lag effect. Try to wake up with the sun and go to sleep when it sets, if possible. Doing so will help your body pick up on the time change more quickly because it will start to adapt its circadian rhythm.”

Eat the right foods

“Tart cherries are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep,” explains Stacy Goldberg, the official health/wellness consultant and nutritionist for the NBA Coaches Association. A study in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that older adults with insomnia slept longer when they consumed 8 ounces of tart cherry juice twice a day. “Try adding 8–16 ounces of tart cherry juice into your daily routine to experience longer, more restful sleep,” recommends Goldberg. “You can also try a handful of dried tart cherries for a nighttime snack or frozen tart cherries in your favorite smoothie recipe.”

Set yourself up for (sleep) success

“I try to make sure I have the best chance of restful sleep while I am away,” says our frequent traveler Peggy Cole. “I do that in part by making sure I have the right environment for restful sleep. If I travel to the same location on a regular basis, I may request the same room when I book because I find that helps me to acclimate more quickly. I sleep with a fan on at home, and so I request one when I travel and I find hotels are typically able to accommodate.”

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