Coping with Adjustment Insomnia After Moving - I Love Moving

Jet-Lagged and Wide Awake – Coping with Adjustment Insomnia After Moving Abroad

Posted Moving Tips / May 4, 2023
Milly Andrews

Born and raised in Portland, Milly has had a lot of experience moving and writing about the relocation process.

If you’ve recently moved abroad or plan to do so, you might be experiencing a sleep-stealing companion known as adjustment insomnia. In this blog, we’ll explore the challenges of acclimating to a new time zone and coping with the stress of settling into a new country, which can all contribute to sleepless nights. By identifying acute insomnia causes and discovering effective strategies to overcome it, we will help you learn how to wake up ready to enjoy your new life.

How Do You Know You Have Insomnia? Battling an Invisible Enemy

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that affects many people at some point in their lives. Knowing you have insomnia involves identifying the signs and symptoms that indicate difficulty in falling asleep, staying asleep, or achieving restful sleep. Battling this condition requires understanding insomnia symptoms and treatment.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, between 30 and 40 percent of adults report experiencing insomnia - in any given year

Keeping a sleep diary can help you recognize patterns and identify potential triggers for your insomnia. Note the time you go to bed, the time you wake up, and nighttime awakenings, and how you feel during the day. This information can provide valuable insights into your sleep habits and help you determine if you are experiencing insomnia.

It’s also important to consider any recent life changes, stressors, or adjustments that may be contributing to your sleep difficulties – and relocating to another country could definitely be one of them, especially if you’re relocating abroad alone.

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Acute Insomnia Causes

How do you know you have insomnia? There are several causes of acute insomnia, including:

  • Stress – significant life stressors, such as moving internationally, but also loss of work position, financial difficulties, relationship problems, illness, or the death of a loved one, can trigger this condition,
  • Environmental factors – unfamiliar or uncomfortable surroundings that, for example, come once you start living overseas for the first time, can disrupt sleep,
  • Lifestyle changes – changes in daily routine or sleep schedule, such as shift work, travel across time zones, or irregular sleep habits, can cause sleep problems. Jet lag, for example, is a common form of adjustment insomnia experienced by travelers and those relocating to a new city abroad,
  • Emotional upheaval – emotional disturbances or significant changes in personal relationships can contribute to acute insomnia,
  • Medical conditions and medications – acute pain, illness, or injury can make it difficult to sleep comfortably.
  • Substance use – consuming caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol close to bedtime can interfere with sleep,
  • Poor sleep hygiene – inadequate sleep habits, such as irregular bedtimes, stimulating activities before sleep, or using electronic devices in bed, can contribute to acute insomnia.

In many cases, acute insomnia resolves on its own once the triggering factor has been managed or removed. However, if it persists or significantly impacts daily life, seeking professional help may be necessary.

Adjustment Insomnia Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

The most common symptoms of acute insomnia are difficulty falling asleep, waking up too early and being unable to fall back asleep, waking up frequently during the night, non-refreshing sleep or poor sleep quality, daytime fatigue or sleepiness, irritability or mood disturbances, difficulty concentrating or focusing, and impaired performance at work or school.

Coping with Adjustment Insomnia

This temporary sleep disorder can leave you feeling exhausted, frustrated, and desperate for a good night’s rest, which is why it’s important to discover effective coping strategies to reclaim your sleep. With the emotional upheaval that comes with planning a relocation to another city abroad, take a look at some practical relocation tips to help you get back to a restful slumber and tackle life’s challenges with renewed energy.

Establishing a Sleep Routine in the New Location

Developing a consistent sleep routine after you start living abroad can help your body adjust to the changes and improve your sleep quality. Wake up and go to bed at the same time each day, including weekends, to help regulate your body’s internal clock. Additionally, exposing yourself to natural light during the day and dimming lights in the evening can help reinforce your circadian rhythm.

Creating a Sleep-Conducive Environment

A comfortable and quiet sleep environment is essential for coping with adjustment insomnia. Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and free of distractions. Use blackout curtains or a sleep mask to block out light, and consider using white noise machines or earplugs to minimize noise disturbances. Investing in a comfortable mattress and pillows can also improve the quality of your sleep.

Avoiding Caffeine and Alcohol

Limit your consumption of caffeine and alcohol, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime. Caffeine, found in coffee, tea, and some soft drinks, is a stimulant that can interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Alcohol, although initially sedating, can disrupt your sleep later in the night, leading to fragmented sleep and early awakenings.

Engaging in Relaxation Techniques Before Bed

Incorporate relaxation techniques into your bedtime routine to help calm your mind and ease stress. Techniques such as deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, or gentle yoga can help signal to your body that it’s time to sleep. Consider adding soothing activities like reading or taking a warm bath to further enhance relaxation before bed.

Trying Natural Sleep Aids

Natural sleep aids like herbal teas (chamomile, valerian root, or passionflower), aromatherapy (lavender or bergamot essential oils), or over-the-counter supplements (melatonin or magnesium) can help some individuals fall asleep more easily. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before trying any new supplements or natural remedies, as they may interact with other medications or have potential side effects.

When to Seek Professional Help for Insomnia?

It is essential to seek professional help for insomnia when it persists for an extended period, significantly interferes with daily functioning, or is accompanied by symptoms of depression or anxiety. Typically, if insomnia lasts for more than a few weeks despite self-help strategies like improving sleep hygiene and stress management, it’s time to consult a healthcare provider. They will provide you with the right tips on how to improve your sleep, prescribe you sleep medication, or suggest some form of therapy, such as CBT.

If you want to learn more about this type of insomnia treatment, take a look at the video below:

Acute Insomnia and Moving Abroad

Getting international moving services and relocating to a whole new country can be a significant life change that may trigger acute insomnia. Whichever your relocation reasons may be, organizing this type of move often involves numerous stressors, including finding a new home, dealing with culture shock, learning a new language in order to break the language barrier, and establishing a new social network. The stress associated with these challenges can lead to acute insomnia, as anxiety and worry can interfere with one’s ability to fall asleep or stay asleep.

At the same time, note that relocating to a new place often means adjusting to a different living space, which can impact sleep quality. Factors such as unfamiliar noise, light, or temperature conditions can disrupt sleep patterns and contribute to acute insomnia. It may take some time to adapt to the new environment and create a comfortable sleep setting.

Additionally, when relocating overseas, particularly across multiple time zones, keep in mind that the body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm, needs time to adjust to the new time zone. This misalignment between the body’s internal clock and the local time can result in jet lag, causing acute insomnia, daytime sleepiness, and fatigue. Jet lag can last several days to a couple of weeks, depending on the number of time zones crossed and individual factors.

Adjusting to a New Time Zone – Coping Strategies for Jet Lag

First of all, it’s a good idea to start shifting your bedtime and wake-up time closer to the schedule of your destination several days before the relocation date. Adjust by thirty minutes to an hour each day, depending on the number of time zones you’ll be crossing. Keep in mind that dehydration can exacerbate jet lag symptoms. Make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your flight. Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption, as they can contribute to dehydration and disrupt sleep.

Try to adjust to the local time as soon as possible. If you arrive during daylight hours, resist the urge to nap and stay awake until the local bedtime. Engage in outdoor activities and expose yourself to natural light, as sunlight can help regulate your body’s internal clock. Once it’s finally time to sleep, ensure that your sleep environment is conducive to rest by minimizing noise, light, and temperature disruptions.

Professional Moving Services Can Reduce the Number of Sleepless Nights

While professional moving services may not directly cure your insomnia, they can significantly reduce the stress associated with the relocation process and shipping overseas, ultimately helping to decrease the number of sleepless nights you experience. A reliable overseas shipping company, such as I Love International Moving, has extensive experience in planning and organizing international moves, ensuring a smooth and efficient process. By taking care of the logistics, they can alleviate the stress that comes with coordinating the move on your own.

Moreover, professional movers from a trustworthy international moving company are skilled in packing your belongings securely to prevent damage during transit. Professional packing services can provide peace of mind, knowing that your valuable items are well-protected, and help you move efficiently and worry-free. Therefore, choosing the right overseas moving company should be on every relocation checklist. It can and will improve your experience during the transition, allowing you to settle into your new home more quickly and comfortably and enjoy all the relocation benefits that come with it.

Let I Love International Moving Help You Deal With Your Upcoming Move – And All the Tasks That Come With It

At I Love International Moving, we understand that relocating can be an overwhelming and stressful experience. That’s why we’re dedicated to providing comprehensive solutions to help you tackle your international relocation. Our team of experienced professionals is committed to ensuring your relocation is as smooth and hassle-free as possible, allowing you to focus on settling into your new home and reducing the stressors that can trigger acute insomnia. Therefore, don’t hesitate to contact us once you start with all the planning – and let I Love International Moving be your partner in managing relocation day preparations and all the challenges of relocating abroad.


What Is Adjustment Insomnia, and How Is It Different From Regular Insomnia?

Adjustment insomnia, also known as acute insomnia or transient insomnia, is a short-term sleep disorder characterized by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or obtaining restorative sleep due to a specific stressor or life event – such as relocating across the world. It is different from regular insomnia, which is typically chronic and occurs over a longer period, often without an identifiable cause.

Is Adjustment Insomnia a Temporary or Long-Term Condition?

Acute insomnia is generally a temporary condition that resolves once the triggering event or stressor has been addressed or removed. In most cases, the duration of adjustment insomnia is relatively short, lasting days or weeks, as opposed to chronic insomnia, which persists for months or even years.

What Are Some Factors That Can Contribute to Adjustment Insomnia?

Factors that can contribute to adjustment insomnia include significant life stressors such as moving overseas, but also job loss, divorce, illness, or grief. Other triggers can include environmental factors like noise, light, or temperature disruptions, as well as lifestyle factors like shift work, jet lag, or irregular sleep schedules.

Can Adjusting to a New Time Zone Cause Adjustment Insomnia?

Yes, adjusting to a new time zone can cause acute insomnia, as the body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm, takes time to adapt to the new schedule. This type of insomnia is often referred to as jet lag and is common among those traveling or moving abroad – and crossing multiple time zones.

How Long Does It Typically Take To Recover From Adjustment Insomnia?

Recovery from acute insomnia varies from person to person and depends on factors such as the severity of the stressor and individual resilience. Typically, this condition resolves within a few days to a few weeks once the triggering event has been addressed or the individual adapts to the new situation.

Are There Any Natural Remedies for Adjustment Insomnia?

Natural remedies for this condition include maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, ensuring a comfortable sleep environment, engaging in regular physical activity, and managing stress through relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation.

When Should I Seek Professional Help for Adjustment Insomnia?

If acute insomnia persists for more than a few weeks, significantly interferes with daily functioning, or is accompanied by symptoms of depression or anxiety, it may be time to seek professional help.

Can Adjustment Insomnia Be Prevented?

Taking steps to manage relocation stress and maintain a healthy sleep environment can help reduce the likelihood of developing the condition. It’s important to establish a regular sleep schedule and find a way to cope with a big life change, such as relocating, in order to minimize the risk of this condition.

How Can I Tell if My Insomnia Is Caused by Adjustment Issues or Another Underlying Condition?

Determining the cause of insomnia can be challenging, as multiple factors can contribute to sleep disturbances. If your insomnia is triggered by a specific life event or stressor and resolves within a few weeks, it is likely an adjustment to insomnia. However, if your sleep difficulties persist for three months or longer, occur without a clear cause, or significantly impact your daily life, it may be chronic insomnia or another underlying condition.

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