Tips for Overcoming Jet Lag
If you’ve traveled across different time zones, then you are familiar with jet lag. The condition happens when your circadian rhythms are slow to adjust to a new time zone and remain on their original schedule for several days. This results in a struggle that can last three or more days.
You’ve just gotten back to the U.S. from a fun trip in Asia but your time clock is all out of whack. You want to go to sleep but it’s the middle of the day. What are some ways that you can bounce back quickly and return to your normal schedule? Here are some tips:
- If you are trying to stay awake, it may be tough to do, but remain as active as possible. Take a long walk outside or if you are too tired to walk, simply sit outside in the sun, which should help to keep you awake.
- When selecting flights, choose one that arrives early evening and do your best to stay up until 10 pm local time. Set an alarm that will wake you up so that you don’t over sleep the next morning.
- For at least three to four hours before you plan to go to sleep, avoid alcohol or caffeine, which act as stimulants.
- If you are trying to fall asleep but are not tired, talk to your doctor about taking a sleep aid such as ZzzQuil or a natural supplement such as melatonin.
- Consider beginning to shift your schedule before you depart for your trip. Look up the time at your destination and determine the difference in hours between your current time zone and your destination time zone. If you are traveling east to west, your body clock needs to be delayed so you wake up and go to bed later. Moving from west to east is a lot harder on our systems and takes much more effort to change. If you know you’ll have a significant time difference, try adjusting your day by an hour each day several days before you depart for your trip. This should help with the adjustment, although not completely.
- Some experts believe that the sun has a significant effect on our body clocks. As a result, if you’re traveling east, you’ll want to seek out the morning light and avoid late afternoon light so that you can adjust more easily. If you’re traveling west, the opposite is true. Building on this, it is also true that your cell phone or iPad emit blue-spectrum light which can imitate the sun and encourage your brain to stay awake. Turn off all electronic devices at least an hour before your bedtime.
- If you are traveling for a short period of time, say one to two days, consider not adjusting at all. One expert believes that it takes about three days to adjust so if your trip is any shorter than that, consider trying to stay as close to your normal time zone as possible.
- Finally, once you arrive on the plane, make sure your clock is set for the time zone of your destination. If it is noon at your destination, don’t take a nap but force yourself to stay awake during the flight.
If you’re a frequent traveler who has some great tips about overcoming jet lag, share them in the comments section below. Happy travels!