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Some moms are microdosing on mushrooms, touting the benefits – but risks exist, say doctors

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Some moms are microdosing on mushrooms, touting the benefits – but risks exist, say doctors

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Motherhood is a tough job — and now some moms are getting help from an unlikely source.

Thousands of mothers are taking microdoses of psychedelic or “magic” mushrooms — officially called psilocybin — to ease their stress and anxiety, according to some reports.

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On an Instagram account called “Moms On Mushrooms,” which has over 30,000 followers, users claim mushrooms are improving their mental health.

MUSHROOM-INFUSED ‘MICRODOSING’ CHOCOLATE BARS ARE SENDING PEOPLE TO THE HOSPITAL, PROMPTING INVESTIGATION: FDA

Others, however, are concerned about the possible health risks and legal issues associated with these psychedelic substances.

Read on for both sides of the issue, including a doctor’s warning. 

Potential benefits

Peggy Van de Plassche, a Canada-based former business and finance executive, quit her job to focus her time and energy on the psychedelic industry.

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Peggy Van de Plassche (left), a Canada-based former business and finance executive, quit her job to focus her time and energy on the psychedelic industry. (Peggy Van de Plassche / iStock)

Van De Plassche is a mom and founder of The Microdose Diet, a holistic program that includes alternative medicines such as psilocybin to “rewire the brain, calm the body, master emotions and raise energy to reach more success.”

She calls microdosing the new “biohack” for mothers to navigate their stress and anxiety around parenting, aging and work.

“Microdosing can help moms find calm and clarity in parenting, improve their emotional resilience, and even help manage postpartum depression,” Van de Plassche said in a statement to Fox News Digital.

PSYCHEDELIC RETREAT REPORTS 183% SPIKE IN BOOKINGS AS HEALTH EXPERTS CITE ‘DOWNSIDE’ OF UNREGULATED USE

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There are three potential benefits of microdosing mushrooms, according to Van de Plassche, who is also the author of the book “MORE! The Microdose Diet – The 90-Day Plan for More Success, Passion, and Happiness.”

1. Enhanced emotional and mental well-being

Many women report significant improvements in their emotional and mental health when they begin microdosing psychedelics, according to Van de Plassche.

“These small, sub-hallucinogenic doses can stabilize mood and improve emotional responsiveness,” she told Fox News Digital via email.

A vendor bags psilocybin mushrooms

Thousands of mothers are apparently taking microdoses of psychedelic or “magic” mushrooms — officially called psilocybin — to ease their stress and anxiety, according to some reports. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

“Research and anecdotal evidence suggest that microdosing may help diminish symptoms of depression, anxiety and PTSD, which disproportionately affect women.”

In theory, these substances can balance women’s emotions and make everyday challenges more manageable, claimed Van de Plassche.

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One supporter calls microdosing the new “biohack” for mothers to navigate stress and anxiety.

One mother posted on Reddit last year about her positive experience with microdosing.

“No exaggeration, microdosing saved my life. I had terrible reactions to everything commonly prescribed to treat PTSD, and as a last resort I started microdosing,” she wrote.

“There was no high or buzz, I just stopped wanting to kill myself,” the individual wrote. “It’s been two years and my kids have a fully functional mom and my world has color.”

2. Increased creativity and problem-solving

“Women in creative fields, as well as those in more traditional sectors, find that microdosing enhances their problem-solving capabilities and creative thinking,” Van de Plassche said.

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“This isn’t about generating a ‘high,’ but rather sparking a slight uplift in cognitive flexibility.”

Mother depressed

“Microdosing can help moms find calm and clarity in parenting, improve their emotional resilience, even help manage postpartum depression,” claimed an advocate of mushrooms. (iStock)

In her view, microdosing helps women “think outside the box,” forge new connections and arrive at better solutions. 

“Whether at work or at home, women can benefit from more creativity with the help of microdosing,” she said.

3. Menopause relief and hormonal balance

Van de Plassche said she believes that microdosing can help women navigate the psychological and physiological symptoms of menopause, such as mood swings, insomnia and fatigue. 

“By modulating the serotonin system in the brain, microdoses of psychedelics might offer a new kind of equilibrium without the side effects associated with traditional hormone replacement therapies,” she told Fox News Digital.

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FDA PANEL REJECTS MDMA-ASSISTED THERAPIES FOR PTSD DESPITE HIGH HOPES FROM VETERANS

“Microdosing holds particular appeal for women seeking gentle yet effective transformations,” she also said. 

Beyond helping to manage symptoms of aging, microdosing can help women “reclaim a sense of agency” over their minds and spirits, according to Van de Plassche.

What is a microdose?

Microdosing psilocybin involves “regularly taking very small, sub-perceptual doses of LSD or psilocybin,” which is the psychoactive compound found in certain mushrooms, according to Van de Plassche.

The ideal dose, frequency and type of mushroom can vary from one person to the next, she said.

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Dizzy woman

Though some moms are swearing by this today, microdosing psychedelics can cause a psychotic or manic episode, especially in those with a personal or family history of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, an expert warned. (iStock)

“I have found that 100 milligrams of psilocybin once every three days in the morning on an empty stomach is a great rule of thumb for most,” said Van de Plassche.

Potential risks of microdosing on mushrooms

Some medical professionals warn about a lack of research and safety concerns associated with mushrooms.

“There is not a lot of peer-reviewed research or safety data available for microdosing psychedelics, because these substances are not as well-studied as more traditional interventions,” Dr. Adam D. Scioli, chief medical officer of Caron Treatment Centers in Pennsylvania, told Fox News Digital.

“However, some of what we do know is concerning.”

“There is not a lot of peer-reviewed research or safety data available for microdosing psychedelics.”

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Microdosing psychedelics can cause a psychotic or manic episode, especially in those with a personal or family history of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, Scioli warned.

Other potential risks include paranoia, worsened depression or anxiety, and enhancement of emotions like worry, fear and guilt.

“Individuals microdose to manage emotions or feel better, but they should be aware that you can’t control which emotions you may experience,” Scioli added.

Woman taking pill

There is a risk that mushrooms may interact with other depression medications, which could be dangerous, even life-threatening, an expert warned. (iStock)

There is also the risk that mushrooms may interact with other depression medications, which could be dangerous or even life-threatening, the expert warned.

For some, the substance could lead to elevated blood pressure or heart rate, or an increased risk of stroke or sudden cardiac arrest.

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“Individuals may also experience migraines, vomiting, nausea, loss of consciousness, body temperature dysregulation (too hot or too cold), loss of focus and/or brain fog,” Scioli added.

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Until there is more conclusive research, Scioli believes that adults should avoid microdosing with mind-altering substances outside a clinical setting and under the supervision of a board-certified physician.

Some also warn of the psychological impact the practice could have on kids.

One Reddit user wrote, “I think parents shouldn’t be on any kind of drug (alcohol, vapes, grass, shrooms, tobacco, hard drugs…) when taking care of a child, because of how it will damage the health of the child. Kids can also tell when adults aren’t sober. It makes kids feel unsafe.”

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Magic mushrooms

Until there is more conclusive research, one addiction expert believes that adults should avoid microdosing with mind-altering substances outside a clinical setting under the supervision of a board-certified physician. (iStock)

Van de Plassche acknowledged that taking mushrooms too often or in excessive amounts can be risky — as can consuming “low-quality” varieties.

Women who are pregnant and breastfeeding should not microdose, she also advised.

“Men and women with dissociative mental health challenges, such as schizophrenia, should also refrain from using psychedelics,” Van de Plassche added.

Are mushrooms legal?

Psilocybin is classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

                   

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That classification means the substance “has a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision,” as stated on the DEA’s website.

“Most microdosers have to opt for ‘civil disobedience’ in order to benefit from the practice.”

“Some states offer psychedelic-assisted therapy, which consists of large doses of psychedelics administered in a medical environment and combined with therapy,” Van de Plassche said.

“Patients usually have to jump through many hoops to access it, and it is very expensive — and mostly not covered by health insurance,” she added.

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Availability of the substance varies by state, city and county.

Except for some “open-minded” doctors, Van de Plassche said most health practitioners will redirect patients toward more traditional therapies.

Psilocybin mushrooms capsule

Psilocybin is classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). (iStock)

“Microdosing is not a practice embraced by health professionals — yet,” she said. 

“Most microdosers have to opt for ‘civil disobedience’ in order to benefit from the practice.”

In most cases, the substances people use are not standardized or regulated, Scioli reiterated. 

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“That means you really don’t know what you’re taking — and what you’re taking may be contaminated with other substances that can be extremely dangerous,” he said.

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“There is also no way to tell if you’re taking too much of a substance. What may have little to no effect on one person may be extremely harmful to another person.”

Fox News Digital reached out to the DEA requesting additional comment.

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Doctors react after Biden’s live address to the nation: A concerning ‘lack of emotion’

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Doctors react after Biden’s live address to the nation: A concerning ‘lack of emotion’

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After President Joe Biden’s address to the nation Wednesday night, multiple doctors shared their opinions with Fox News Digital about his perceived health status based on his live speech.

Seated in the Oval Office, the president spoke relatively briefly about his withdrawal from the 2024 race and his commitment to continuing to serve the country for the next few months. 

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He did not mention his recent COVID-19 infection, ongoing concerns about his cognitive health, or the recent assassination attempt on the life of former President Donald Trump.

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Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor — who has never treated the president — noted that Biden seemed to be reading from a teleprompter on Wednesday night, as he often does, making it difficult for those watching to gauge his medical fitness.

Although Biden stumbled over his words a few times, Siegel was more concerned about the president’s apparent “lack of emotion.”

President Joe Biden addresses the nation from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, July 24, 2024, about his decision to drop his Democratic presidential reelection bid.  (Getty Images)

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“It is a very emotional time for him and he isn’t showing it,” the doctor told Fox News Digital after the speech. “He seems to lack conviction.”

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Siegel expressed concern that Biden “could be depressed and shocked by the current reality.”

“I feel compassion for him,” Siegel went on. “How can he quote from the Declaration [of Independence] without much conviction? I feel bad for him and for us.”

“It is a very emotional time for him and he isn’t showing it.”

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Dr. Robert Lufkin, a California-based physician and medical school professor at UCLA and USC, also weighed in on Biden.

Lufkin noted that he has never examined Biden, but offered his observations based on Wednesday’s speech and recent media events.

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In previous appearances, Biden has shown signs of “cognitive deterioration,” the doctor told Fox News Digital.

“The findings in his previous presentations could have a variety of causes, including sleep deprivation, sedation, metabolic abnormalities or even neurodegenerative diseases.”

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Doctors react Biden

From left to right, Dr. Earnest Lee Murray; Dr. Marc Siegel; and Dr. Robert Lufkin offered observations about the president’s Wednesday night speech. (Dr. Earnest Lee Murray; Dr. Marc Siegel; Dr. Robert Lufkin)

Tonight’s short presentation appeared to be read from a teleprompter, Lufkin agreed — “which is less demanding than the more spontaneous Q&A debate format of some of his previous events.”

In previous appearances, such as the June 27 debate, Biden has shown “confused rambling, sudden loss of train of thought in the middle of a sentence, halting speech, and the repeated use of the word ‘anyway’ when lost in a sentence,” Lufkin noted.

      

“Tonight, we did not see these in his presentation,” he said. “His delivery was fairly uniform without interruptions.”

The fact that these findings were less apparent tonight could be due to the speech format of the presentation and use of a teleprompter, according to Lufkin.

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President Joe Biden addresses the nation from the Oval Office

Biden addressed the nation from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, July 24, 2024. “That format is much less challenging and less likely to uncover pathology than a more rigorous Q&A exchange or debate format,” a doctor told Fox News Digital. (Evan Vucci, Pool via AP)

“That format is much less challenging and less likely to uncover pathology than a more rigorous Q&A exchange or debate format,” he went on.

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He said he hoped that “continued interactions with Mr. Biden in various presentation formats will allow us to understand his situation in more detail.”

Biden arrival

“I suspect the stress of trying to run for office and be president was leading to even worse daily cognitive performance,” said a neurologist on Wednesday night after watching Biden’s speech. Above, the president on Wednesday after returning to public view after nearly a week of seclusion due to COVID.  (Getty Images)

Dr. Earnest Lee Murray, a board-certified neurologist at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital in Jackson, Tennessee, said the speech from the Oval Office was “clearly better” for Biden than the debate, but also noted that the president struggled at times with reading from the teleprompter. 

Murray has not treated or examined Biden.

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“Reading simple passages do become difficult in patients with dementia,” he told Fox News Digital, expressing a professional opinion in general about such cases. 

The president struggled at times with reading from the teleprompter. 

“Patients with a dementing process have significant difficulties with multitasking,” said Murray, again speaking generally.

“President Biden seemed more rested and relaxed tonight,” Murray said. 

“I suspect the stress of trying to run for office and be president was leading to even worse daily cognitive performance,” he also said. 

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In response to earlier outreach from Fox News Digital, the White House press office said that “health was not a factor” in the president’s decision to withdraw from the 2024 race. 

“He looks forward to finishing his term and delivering more historic results for the American people,” the White House said in its statement. 

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Dengue surges in UAE after record-breaking rainfall leaves ideal conditions for mosquitoes

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Dengue surges in UAE after record-breaking rainfall leaves ideal conditions for mosquitoes
  • Dengue has spiked worldwide. The World Health Organization declared it an emergency in December as cases have globally increased tenfold over the last generation.
  • The United Arab Emirates have issued many warnings about dengue. Mosquitoes spread dengue and have flourished in the UAE after it experienced record-setting rainfall.
  • While the UAE did not answer questions regarding the number of cases, activists say that laborers are being hit the hardest by the virus.

Since the United Arab Emirates witnessed its heaviest recorded rainfall ever three months ago, the desert nation has issued a multitude of warnings about dengue which, activists say, has surged and struck hardest among the vast populations of laborers.

The tropical disease, spread by mosquitoes, has witnessed a worldwide spike. The World Health Organization declared it an emergency in December as cases have globally increased tenfold over the last generation.

Many people infected by the virus are asymptomatic, but some experience headaches, fever and flu-like symptoms. Severe cases can lead to serious bleeding, shock and death.

LOCAL DENGUE FEVER CASES CONFIRMED IN FLORIDA KEYS, SPREAD BY MOSQUITO BITES

In the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms, the disease has usually spread due to travel on long-haul carriers into the country. However, on April 25, the Department of Health alerted that locally transmitted cases without travel history have been documented since 2023 “as a result of climate change and an environment conducive to mosquito breeding.”

Changes in weather patterns turn countries previously inhospitable to Dengue-carrying mosquitoes into possible habitats.

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The April deluges, which flooded portions of major highways and Dubai’s international airport, only amplified the risk in the Gulf country. While major thoroughfares quickly saw vacuum pumps arrive, others remained saddled for weeks with stagnant pools of water, where virus-carrying mosquitoes lay their eggs and spread the disease.

An abandoned vehicle stands in floodwater covering a major road in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on April 18, 2024, after heavy thunderstorms. (AP Photo/Christopher Pike, File)

No official figures have been shared in the Emirates where broad laws severely restrict freedom of speech and almost all major local media are either state-owned or state-affiliated outlets. Queries sent to various governmental organizations about the exact number of confirmed dengue cases went unanswered.

The WHO also declined to discuss the situation in the UAE when reached by The Associated Press. However, the U.N. health agency noted in its May 30 report that there have been continued dengue outbreaks in Mideast “countries with stronger health-care systems that have been affected by unusual rains due to climate change.” It also said: “Timely data sharing also remains a challenge for other countries in the region for reasons such as the potential impact in the tourism, economy and other sectors.”

Meanwhile, public awareness campaigns across the sheikdom on the importance of cleaning stagnant water and warnings about dengue, also known as breakbone fever, have been widely aired on state media.

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Still, activists stressed that communities of laborers are bearing the brunt of the disease.

The slow cleanup of flooded areas in industrial sites has worsened the spread of the disease among laborers, some of whom have left their home countries already affected by climate change for a chance to earn money in the UAE, according to a report issued by FairSquare, a London-based group focused on labor rights in the Gulf Arab states.

The July 4 report detailed a surge in dengue cases among migrant worker communities across the Emirates, citing three healthcare workers, a government official, and migrant workers. The group attributed the rise in cases to a lagging government response to the spread of the viral infection in areas where migrant laborers live and work.

James Lynch, a FairSquare co-director once banned from entering the UAE while at Amnesty International, told the AP that “the important thing here is the disproportionate impact” of how the virus seems to mainly spread among laborers. “What you would want to see is an even-handed approach to dealing with clean up and it doesn’t seem to be the case here.”

No specific figures were shared in the report which quoted a nurse, who works at a private clinic in the city of Sharjah, as saying they receive over 30 cases every four or five days, describing the rise in cases as “alarming.”

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The UAE’s overall population of more than 9.2 million is only 10% Emirati, with millions of low-paid workers from Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

“I call it a double whammy of climate change on this very vulnerable population,” said Barrak Alahmad, a research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “I see that these migrant workers are on the front line facing the effects of climate change and health.”

The effect of the virus also resonated in Iran.

The Islamic Republic relies on Dubai as a major transit point to the rest of the world due to the international sanctions it faces over its nuclear program and tensions with the West.

On July 9, Shahnam Arshi, an Iranian health ministry official, said of 149 people infected with dengue, 130 had been infected in the UAE while Hossein Farshidi, deputy health minister, said the first known infected person entered Iran on May 15, after the flooding in the Emirates.

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Farshidi, in his latest remarks on July 23, said the number of infected people in the country, rose to 152, without giving further details.

This year, Iran also reported its first locally transmitted cases of dengue, saying the number rose to 12 in July, all of them located in the Bandar Lengeh port, south of Iran.

Earlier this year, Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro declared a public health emergency because of mosquito-borne dengue fever, while in July, U.S. officials warned doctors to stay on alert as the tropical disease broke international records.

“Each year, we are going to see new places and different local governments struggling with either dengue or other issues from climate change,” said Alahmad, the research fellow. “It is an ever-expanding issue. I don’t know if we have an easy fix to this.”

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Sleep and travel don’t always mix: Here are 7 tips to help you rest on the road

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Sleep and travel don’t always mix: Here are 7 tips to help you rest on the road

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More than half of U.S. adults plan to take a summer vacation this year, surveys have found — but for many, the time off may not be as restful as they’d hoped.

Whether traveling for pleasure or business, it’s common for people to experience sleep struggles away from home, experts say. Yet there are some ways to improve your rest while on the road.

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Why does travel interfere with sleep?

For most people, struggles with sleep on the first night of vacation are part of a natural survival mechanism, expert say.

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“Our brains enter ‘protector mode,’ especially when we’re traveling with family,” said Martin Seeley, CEO and sleep expert at Mattress Next Day in the U.K., in an email to Fox News Digital.

“In an unfamiliar place, our brains become instinctively more alert, increasing adrenaline to keep us awake and ready to defend ourselves or our loved ones.”

Jet lag, trip logistics and changing schedules can interfere with sleep, experts agreed. (iStock)

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Dr. Chelsie Rohrscheib, a neuroscientist and sleep specialist at Wesper in New York, agreed that sleeping in a foreign environment places the brain on high alert, and often results in light sleep and poor sleep quality for the first couple of days.

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An unfamiliar environment can also throw off a person’s sleep cycle, she told Fox News Digital, as the bed and sleeping area may be much different than at home, which usually requires an adjustment period. 

“You have almost no control over the type of mattress, pillow and bedding you’ll have while traveling, and you may find it uncomfortable,” Rohrscheib said.

Sleep triple split

Experts shared seven tips to help improve sleep while traveling. (iStock)

If traveling to a different time zone, that can disrupt the circadian rhythm, which is the body’s 24-hour biological clock. 

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“You may find it very difficult to adjust to your new sleep and wake time, which causes poor sleep for up to a week,” the doctor noted.

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All of these factors can add up to daytime sleepiness, cognitive impairment, low energy and moodiness, the expert warned.

Changes to diet and exercise routines, modified schedules, and stress and anxiety about trip logistics can also affect the ability to sleep, according to experts with the Sleep Foundation.

7 tips to get better sleep while traveling

“Luckily, there are ways to ‘trick’ your brain into reducing levels of adrenaline and feeling more relaxed,” Seeley said.

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1. Bring familiar items from home

Seeley recommends taking something from your bedroom at home that your brain will associate with sleeping in a safe environment.

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“The pillowcase from your bed won’t take up any room in your suitcase, and it will smell like your laundry detergent — this makes it ideal for relaxing your brain and body,” he suggested.

Smells are very powerful when it comes to triggering memories, the expert noted.

“So if you’re surrounded by the same smells of your bed at home, your brain will more than likely start to feel more safe and relaxed.”

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2. Mimic your home environment

Seeley recommends setting up your sleeping area to resemble your home environment as closely as possible. 

Girl sleeping

One expert recommends bringing your own pillow, as well as a sleep mask and earplugs, to help promote better rest. (iStock)

This might include bringing a small nightlight if you use one at home, adjusting the room’s temperature to your liking, and using a white noise machine to block unfamiliar sounds, he suggests. 

“These small adjustments can help make the new space feel more familiar, which will aid you in falling asleep quicker,” Seeley said.

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Rohrscheib also recommends bringing your own pillow, as well as a sleep mask and earplugs.

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“You can’t be sure your accommodations will have sufficient blackout blinds or soundproofing,” she said.

3. Stay active during the day leading up to your first night

Seeley recommends spending time outside during the day to help regulate your body’s internal clock

“Whether it’s swimming, hiking or exploring local sights on foot, physical exertion can help promote better sleep at night,” he advised. 

Man sleeping on plane

If traveling to a different time zone, that can disrupt the circadian rhythm, which is the body’s 24-hour biological clock, experts say. (iStock)

“Also, natural sunlight exposure helps reinforce your circadian rhythm, making it easier for you to fall asleep at night.”

Once you arrive at your destination, it’s important to continue to get ample exposure to sunlight within the first hour of waking at your travel destination, Rohrscheib noted, as this will help reset your internal clock.

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4. Stick to your usual bedtime routine

Maintaining your usual bedtime routine sends a signal to the brain that it’s time to wind down, according to Seeley. 

“Engage in the same pre-sleep activities you do at home, whether it’s reading a book, taking a warm shower or listening to calming music,” he advised. 

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“This consistency helps cue your brain to prepare for sleep.”

If traveling with children, Seeley recommends encouraging them to stick to regular routines as well — such as brushing their teeth, reading a bedtime story or cuddling with a favorite toy — to help them feel more secure and ready for bed.

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little boy yawns in bed

If traveling with children, experts recommend encouraging them to stick to regular routines to help them feel more secure and ready for bed. (iStock)

“Anything that your brain associates with your normal bedtime environment will make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep,” he said.

5. Stay active during the day leading up to your first night

Spend time outside during the day to help regulate your body’s internal clock, experts recommend. 

“Whether it’s swimming, hiking or exploring local sights on foot, physical exertion can help promote better sleep at night,” Seeley advised. 

“Also, natural sunlight exposure helps reinforce your circadian rhythm, making it easier for you to fall asleep at night.”

6. Adjust your schedule

If you are traveling out of your time zone, Rohrscheib recommends adjusting your sleep schedule in the days leading up to your departure to make the transition easier. 

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“You can also help reset your biological clock by taking a low dose of melatonin at the time you wish to sleep while traveling,” Rohrscheib suggested.  

Man on phone

Experts recommend avoiding the use of electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime. (iStock)

“Taking melatonin for a week before you leave can help you reset your biological clock faster.”

7. Limit screen time 

“Avoid using electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets or laptops at least an hour before bedtime,” Seeley said. 

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“The blue light emitted from screens can interfere with your body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep.”

Rohrscheib also recommends avoiding bright lights — especially from electronic devices — the hour before you go to sleep at your destination.

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