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How To Adjust To A New Time Zone After A PCS Move: Find Essential Tips Here

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Moving can be challenging in many ways, from packing up memories to setting up in unfamiliar surroundings. However, one of the less-discussed challenges of a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move, especially for our esteemed military personnel and their families, is adjusting to a new time zone.

Think about it: not only do you grapple with a new environment, but your body’s internal clock must also reset. This can affect your energy, mood, and overall well-being. Fortunately, at Military Movers, we’ve seen countless service members successfully navigate this transition.

We’ve gathered some tried-and-true tips from our experiences and experts in the field to make this time zone transition as smooth as possible for you. Dive in to discover actionable strategies to help you and your family find equilibrium in your new home, no matter where the military takes you.

Understanding the Impacts of Time Zone Changes

adjusting to a new time zone after a pcs move, bed earlier

The shift from one time zone to another can be a profound experience, impacting not just our daily routines but our very biology. These changes can have various physical and emotional implications, and it’s essential to understand them to mitigate any negative effects.

1. Physical Effects of Jet Lag

Adjusting to a new time zone, especially after arriving at a new duty station, can throw our body’s internal clock off balance, leading to jet lag. This condition can result in fatigue, digestive issues, and difficulty concentrating.

Our body’s natural rhythm, or circadian rhythm, regulates our sleep-wake cycle. A rapid change in time zones disrupts this rhythm, leaving us feeling out of sync. Typical symptoms include insomnia, daytime sleepiness, and a general feeling of being unwell. While temporary, these symptoms can be unsettling, especially amidst the stress of a PCS move.

2. Emotional and Mental Toll

The emotional ramifications of a PCS move are multifaceted. Beyond the general stress of relocating, the shift in time zones can contribute to mood swings, irritability, and feelings of disconnection.

Being uprooted from familiar surroundings is challenging enough. When you add the disorienting effects of a time zone change, it’s not uncommon to experience bouts of sadness, anxiety, or even mild depression. Staying connected with loved ones, seeking support, and understanding that these feelings are temporary can aid in this transition.

3. The Importance of a Set Routine

Establishing a routine is a tried and true method to counter the effects of jet lag. Familiar patterns provide comfort and stability during times of change.

After a PCS move, everything might feel topsy-turvy. But adhering to a set routine, like regular meal times or a bedtime, can help anchor you. This structure not only aids in adjusting to a new time zone but also provides a sense of normalcy in a new environment.

4. The Science Behind Circadian Rhythms

Our bodies operate on an internal clock known as the circadian rhythm, governing our sleep patterns, hormone production, and even digestion.

This rhythm aligns naturally with the 24-hour day. However, when we shift time zones, our external environment is suddenly out of sync with our internal clock. Light exposure, meal timings, and social interactions can all help realign our circadian rhythm in a new time zone, but understanding the science behind it can equip us with tools to adjust more effectively.

5. Effect on Children and Seniors

Time zone changes can be especially challenging for children and seniors, as their routines and biological responses might be more sensitive.

For children whose routines are paramount, a shift can lead to mood swings or behavioral issues. Seniors, on the other hand, might already have fragile sleep patterns, and a time zone shift can exacerbate insomnia or other sleep-related problems. Being patient and providing extra care during the adjustment period is crucial for these age groups.

Read More: Navigating School Changes During PCS Moves: A Guide for Parents

Proactive Steps Before Your PCS Move

sleep medicine, stay awake, basic principles

Moving is more than just physical relocation; it’s a comprehensive transition. Preparing in advance can make the shift, especially a time zone change, more manageable and less jarring.

1. Adjusting Bedtimes

Gradually moving your bedtime earlier can mitigate the abruptness of a time zone transition and ensure you’re aligned with the local time at your new duty station. Start by adjusting in small increments, like 15 minutes earlier or later each night.

This slow shift can ease the body into a new routine, making the eventual time change feel less drastic. It’s a simple yet effective method to reduce the severity of jet lag symptoms, helping you and your family adjust quickly.

2. Adapting Meal Times

Similar to sleep, meal times are integral to our body’s internal clock. By tweaking your eating schedule gradually before the move, you can help your digestive system adapt.

Eating at odd hours, not aligned with your destination’s time zone, can lead to indigestion or other digestive issues. By aligning your meal times with your new location even before you move, you’re giving your body a head start in its adjustment process.

3. The Role of Natural Light

Direct sunlight, particularly in the mornings, plays a pivotal role in regulating our circadian rhythms. Exposing yourself to sunlight during the day, especially in the morning, can help reset your internal clock.

If you’re moving to a place with significant daylight differences, try to match your light exposure to your destination’s daylight patterns. This can help synchronize your body to the new environment more seamlessly.

4. Limiting Screen Time Before Sleep

The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with melatonin production, a hormone responsible for sleep. Limiting screen time before you go to bed is especially crucial when adapting to a new city’s time zone.

By cutting down on screen exposure, especially during the evening, you can facilitate a smoother sleep transition. This is particularly beneficial when preparing for a PCS move, ensuring you’re well-rested for the challenges ahead.

5. Hydration and its Importance

Staying hydrated is always essential, but even more so when you’re adjusting to a new environment and time zone.

Dehydration can exacerbate the symptoms of jet lag. By ensuring you’re drinking adequate water before, during, and after your move, you can mitigate some of the physical discomfort associated with time zone transitions.

6. Pre-move Relaxation Techniques

Stress can hinder your body’s ability to adjust. Incorporating relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, can help ease this transition.

Amidst the chaos of a PCS move, taking moments to center yourself can be invaluable. Not only does it reduce stress, but a relaxed state can also facilitate better sleep and overall well-being during this challenging time.

Read More: Dealing with PCS Moves: Helpful Strategies for Military Spouses

Tips for Immediate Post-move Adjustments

plan ahead, important factor

Adjusting to a new location after a PCS move is more than just overcoming jet lag. It’s about establishing yourself in an unfamiliar environment and cultivating new habits that fit your fresh surroundings. Here are some tips to make this transition smoother.

1. Establishing a New Routine

Establishing a sleeping schedule that aligns with the normal bedtime based on your new location is essential for creating a sense of normalcy after any move. Establishing a new routine quickly can help you feel more grounded and in control amidst the chaos.

While it’s tempting to let routines slide during the initial days post-move, it’s beneficial to start as you mean to go on. Whether it’s sticking to meal times, setting a regular sleep schedule, or designating work hours, these patterns can be an anchor in unfamiliar territory. Consistency is key; over time, these routines will become second nature, creating a semblance of home in your new location.

2. Embracing the Outdoors

Fresh air and direct sunlight can do wonders for your body’s sense of time and your overall mood after reaching a new city. Engaging with the outdoors post-move can aid in quicker time zone adjustment and overall well-being.

Whether it’s a walk in the park, an early morning jog, or simply reading a book on your balcony, spending time outside can help reset your circadian rhythm. The exposure to natural light and the change of scenery can be therapeutic, offering a much-needed break from unpacking and setting up.

3. Using Sleep Aids Responsibly

While it’s natural to seek assistance for a good night’s sleep, it’s essential to use sleep aids responsibly and understand their implications.

Over-the-counter and prescription sleep aids can offer temporary relief from insomnia post-move. However, they should be used judiciously and preferably under a doctor’s guidance. Long-term reliance can lead to dependency or other health issues. Natural alternatives, such as chamomile tea or melatonin supplements, can be considered, but always with an understanding of their effects and limitations.

4. Connecting With Local Support Groups

Building a support system in a new location can make the transition less daunting. Local support groups can provide both practical advice and emotional assistance.

Moving can be isolating, especially in a completely new environment. By connecting with local groups or community centers, you can tap into a reservoir of resources, from local services to friendships. These connections can help alleviate the feelings of disconnection and loneliness that often accompany a PCS move.

5. Importance of Healthy Eating

Nutrition plays a crucial role in how we feel, both physically and mentally. Prioritizing healthy eating post-move can aid in quicker adjustment and better overall health.

Amidst the chaos of moving, it’s easy to rely on takeout or processed foods. However, nourishing your body with balanced meals can help combat the fatigue and stress of relocation. Eating regular, healthy meals can also assist in resetting your body clock, especially when aligned with the meal times of your new time zone.

6. Getting Physical Exercise

Physical activity is a natural mood booster and can be instrumental in adjusting to a new environment.

Regular exercise can help you fall asleep at the correct hour, alleviate stress, and improve overall well-being. Whether it’s a home workout, a gym session, or even a dance class, staying active can help you feel more grounded and connected in your new location.

7. Setting Up Your Bedroom for Optimal Sleep

A conducive sleep environment is vital, especially when adjusting to a new time zone. Setting up your bedroom correctly can make all the difference.

From blackout curtains that block out unwanted light to white noise machines that drown out unfamiliar sounds, there are numerous ways to optimize your bedroom for sleep. Ensuring your mattress and pillows are comfortable and maintaining a cool room temperature can also enhance sleep quality, helping you adjust faster post-move.

Helping Kids and Seniors Adjust

drink plenty, heavy meals

Both children and seniors can find moves to a new duty station, whether on the East Coast or West Coast, particularly challenging. Their sensitivities and needs differ from the general population, making tailored adjustments essential. Here are ways to ensure a smoother transition for these age groups.

1. Addressing the Concerns of Kids

Children often struggle with change, especially when it’s as significant as a PCS move. Addressing their concerns can help them adjust more effectively. Open communication is paramount, especially when discussing changes like when to eat breakfast or when it’s the right arrival time at the new school or facility.

Discussing their fears, answering questions, and assuring them can alleviate much of the anxiety surrounding the move. Establishing routines, setting up their rooms first, and involving them in the relocation process can provide a sense of stability and control.

2. The Special Needs of Teens

Teens face unique challenges during PCS moves, balancing the tumultuous years of adolescence with the upheaval of relocation.

Acknowledging their need for autonomy and independence is essential. Giving them responsibilities during the move, helping them connect with peers in the new location, and being empathetic to their feelings can make the transition less challenging. Keeping the lines of communication open is crucial, as teens often grapple with mixed emotions during such changes.

3. Understanding Senior Sensitivities

Seniors might face both physical and emotional challenges during a move. Understanding these sensitivities can ensure their comfort and well-being.

Physical aspects, like ensuring their new living space is safe and accessible, are paramount. Equally important is acknowledging the emotional toll, as seniors often leave behind decades of memories. Providing emotional support, engaging them in familiar activities, and ensuring they have access to necessary health services can make all the difference.

4. Engaging in Familiar Activities

Familiarity can be a source of comfort during times of change. Engaging in known activities can provide solace and a connection to the past.

Whether it’s a hobby, a ritual, or simply a daily routine, these familiar activities can be grounding. For children, it might be reading a favorite book or playing a cherished game. For seniors, it could be listening to old songs or revisiting cherished memories. These activities provide a bridge between the old and the new, helping in smoother adjustment.

5. Seeking Local Resources for Assistance

Local resources can be invaluable in assisting kids and seniors post-move. From schools and daycare centers to senior services, these institutions can offer both practical and emotional support.

Researching and connecting with these resources can provide a safety net during the transition. Whether it’s counseling services, recreational activities, or health services, leveraging local resources can help children and seniors feel more at home in their new environment.

Read More: PCS Moves for Single Service Members: A Detailed Guide

Why You Need to Hire Military Movers to Make Every PCS Move Seamless?

For many military families, the PCS move is an integral part of their lives. Every relocation presents unique challenges, ranging from adjusting to new time zones to integrating into unfamiliar cultures. Recognizing these multifaceted demands, Military Movers step in as a beacon of support, ensuring each move is smooth, efficient, and hassle-free.

Why Choose Military Movers?

Our reputation isn’t just about efficient logistics; it’s about understanding the heart and soul of every military family we assist.

  • Personalized Planning: Every family has its unique needs. We take the time to understand yours, crafting tailored move strategies that suit your specific demands.
  • Dedicated Support: From the first packed box to the final piece of furniture set in place, our team is with you every step of the way, offering support, guidance, and hands-on help.
  • Safety First: We treat your belongings as our own, ensuring that every item, be it a cherished family heirloom or your child’s favorite toy, reaches its destination safe and sound.
  • Integrated Technology: With our advanced tracking systems and mobile apps, you’re always in the loop, knowing exactly where your belongings are and when they’ll arrive.

A Global Network

Moving overseas? Not a problem. Our expansive global network ensures that no matter where your next posting is, Military Movers is equipped to get you there seamlessly.

  • Expertise on Ground: Our international teams are well-versed with local customs, regulations, and logistical challenges, ensuring your move is smooth from start to finish.
  • Cultural Orientation: Beyond just moving boxes, we offer insights into local cultures, helping your family integrate faster and more comfortably.
  • 24/7 Customer Service: Time zones are no barrier for us. No matter where you are, our dedicated customer service teams are available around the clock, ready to assist.


Adjusting to a new time zone after a PCS move is more than just resetting a clock. It’s about recalibrating lives, routines, and emotions. With tips ranging from leveraging technology to seeking local support, making these transitions smoother becomes an achievable goal. Remember, every challenge offers an opportunity for growth, and every move is a new chapter waiting to be written.

As you navigate these transitions, Military Movers stands beside you, offering unparalleled moving services tailored to the unique needs of military families. Ready to make your next PCS move the smoothest one yet? Contact Military Movers Today!


What is a PCS Move?

A Permanent Change of Station (PCS) Move refers to the official relocation of an active-duty military service member and their family to a new post or base, typically due to a reassignment.

How can I prepare my family for a time zone change?

Begin adjusting your family’s routines a few days before the move. Gradually shift bedtimes, meal times, and other daily activities closer to the schedule of your new location. Additionally, exposure to natural light during the day can help reset circadian rhythms faster.

Is it normal to feel emotional or anxious during a PCS move?

Absolutely. Many individuals experience a mix of excitement and apprehension during such transitions. It’s essential to acknowledge these feelings and seek support, either through talking to family members, joining local support groups, or consulting professionals if needed.

How can technology aid during a PCS move?

From mobile apps that help adjust to new time zones to online communities offering support, technology plays a pivotal role in modern relocations. Additionally, services like Military Movers integrate advanced tech for seamless tracking and communication.

Are there special considerations for moving with kids or seniors?

Yes. Both children and seniors might require extra time and support to adjust. Engaging in familiar activities, maintaining routines, and seeking out local resources can be invaluable in making the transition smoother for them.

Mia Miller

Mia Miller, a true wordsmith, documents the journey of Military Movers through her engaging blog posts. She ensures that our stories, mirroring our commitment and dedication to facilitating military moves, reach a broad audience.