Ah jet lag, that pesky concern that annoys even the most seasoned traveler. Arriving at your destination tired, groggy and disoriented are ideally not the feelings you want to experience at the start of a trip. There are quite a few tips and tricks out there to try and improve your chances of not being impacted by jet lag. So here are some ways you can better adjust to your new timezone and be ready to conquer jet lag once and for all!
So what causes jet lag? When your body’s internal clock, known as your circadian rhythm, is disrupted this can leave you feeling tired and irritable. You havet difficulty sleeping and you might even experience digestive issues. And while not everyone is effected by jet lag, or effected in the same way most travellers want to feel well-rested and ready to take on their destination. Following these tips can work to minimize the impact on your body’s internal clock to get you back on track.
Slowly Change Your Schedule
If you’ll be travelling to a location with a time difference, consider trying to adjust your regular schedule to that of your new time zone in the lead-up to your trip. For example, if you will be heading east, try and wake up earlier in preparation for the time zone when you arrive. Not only will your body be thrown off by a change to your sleep schedule, but you may also notice your appetite changes. Try to have lighter meals with plenty of fruits and vegetables before and during travel to avoid any gastric disturbances. It will also help if you limit alcohol and caffeine before departure and while on the plane to improve your overall quality of sleep.
Your circadian rhythm is most influenced by light, exposure to light during the day will help your body adjust to the new schedule. Getting outside in the morning will help reset your internal clock when travelling to an earlier time zone, and similarly, evening light will help adjust to a later time zone to stay awake longer. Artificial light can also play a role in your body’s schedule. Exposure to electronics at a time when you should be asleep can be a disruption, so try and avoid your devices during planned periods of sleep.
Make it to Bedtime
A nap during the day may sound ideal after a long travel day, but if you can, try and make it to a normal bedtime to help you get on a regular schedule. If you nap too long throughout the day, it will be difficult for your body to be tired in the evening and your bedtime will continue to be pushed later. Try and keep your naps to 30 minutes or less if needed and go to bed at a typical time. If you are travelling through the night, try and get as much sleep as you can on the plane to arrive at your destination for the morning and full day ahead. That first day may seem like you are simply going through the motions, but if you can stay awake until nighttime, your body will have an easier time adapting to the new time zone.
Melatonin is a naturally produced hormone that your body typically releases in the evening before sleeping. It is known to help you fall asleep and regulate your internal clock, which is why many may take melatonin supplements to help them sleep when needed. Melatonin may be more helpful if you are travelling eastward, you would take it at your desired bedtime in the new time zone. It would also be a good idea to try melatonin before your trip to be aware of how your body handles the dosage. If you decide to take melatonin, speak with your healthcare professional before to make sure there are no concerns for you.
Jet lag can be frustrating, especially when you arrive in a new location and want to explore. By taking certain measures, you can try to reduce your jet lag symptoms and get back to your routine in the new time zone. After a few days, your body will begin to adapt its internal clock and feel more alert. It may be unavoidable, but you can beat jet lag!