Escaping your day-to-day life by traveling to one of the Wonders of the World or a tropical paradise is truly a gift. Jet lag just happens to be something that often accompanies a long-haul journey of this caliber. It can be quite annoying when the body crosses time zones and bypasses normal sleep patterns. Although some global travelers have their own hacks, this article aims to highlight a few helpful tips to help get over jet lag.
What Is Jet Lag?
Yes, jet lag is a real thing, but you usually don’t feel it if the time change is small (a couple hours for example). Jet lag is essentially the disruption of the body’s circadian rhythm, which occurs when you travel across three or more time zones. The symptoms often include impaired cognition, general malaise, sleeping troubles, daytime drowsiness, and gastrointestinal issues. Depending on how far you travel, jet lag can last a couple days to a couple weeks.
Researchers suggest that it takes people about one day to adjust for each one to 1.5 hours of time change. That one-hour-per-day rule isn’t concrete, though, and eastward travel tends to create more jet lag than traveling west does, but everyone experiences it differently. Trip itinerary and biological factors can also affect the severity of jet lag. The key to getting over jet lag is getting your body’s circadian rhythm back on track with the sunrise and sunset of your destination. You may find the following tips helpful.
Adapt To Your Time Zone
Some will agree that this is easier said than done, but do your best to forget your old time zone once you land in your new one. If you continue to eat and sleep according to your old time zone, then you’ll experience great trouble. Eat meals and go to bed according to your destination’s time. If you land in the morning, don’t go to sleep right away, despite your desire to do so.
Realign Your Circadian Rhythm
Jet lag disrupts your body’s internal clock, which you have to synchronize with the 24-hour day at your destination. This happens whether you travel east or west, although more people have a harder time traveling east. Because there are so many variables, such as flight arrival time, length of the trip, number of time zones crossed, etc., there is no single remedy to realign your circadian rhythm. Proper timing is essential to adjust your circadian rhythm, though, with proper daylight and dark exposure to quickly get over jet lag. Even with a well-oiled plan, you may still need a few days to over a week to adjust your circadian rhythm. Do your best not to overindulge with caffeine and sleep at night at your destination.
During long-haul flights, most people don’t drink enough water. In fact, people tend to avoid drinking a lot of liquids to ensure fewer bathroom breaks. Proper hydration may help you manage fatigue and other jet lag symptoms. Opt for water instead of soda, sugary juices, or coffee during in-flight service. Carry a reusable water bottle with you and fill it up at your departure airport so that it is full for the flight. You may also ask the flight attendants to fill your water bottle if you run out during the flight. They may or may not say yes, though.
Manage Sleep Time
It can be tempting to sleep whenever you feel tired in your destination. If your flight arrives during the morning or daytime, try to avoid the urge to nap or sleep for a long time. That can make sleep much more difficult once nighttime arrives at your destination. A few things that can help you rest include eye masks, earplugs, comfortable blankets and pillows, portable white noise machine, and noise-canceling headphones. Do your best to get some sleep during your flight if you are in the air during your destination’s nighttime.
Experiment With Melatonin
The body makes melatonin on its own to trigger sleepiness, but it comes as a supplement as well. Melatonin may be a valuable supplement to consider to help your body get sleepy once you arrive at your destination, depending on the time of arrival. If your body isn’t ready for bed at night, you may benefit from taking some. Just be careful to not consume too much melatonin if you want to avoid the unwanted side effects. Don’t take more than five milligrams at a time.
Don’t Over-Schedule Your First
Because you will most likely experience some degree of jet lag upon your arrival, don’t overbook yourself at your vacation destination the first couple days. If returning home, try to leave a day or so of rest before you resume work. Budget enough time for sleep and keep tabs on how you feel to avoid getting sick.