Whether you’re on holiday or traveling somewhere for work, jet lag can be a real drag.
Nothing disrupts well-made travel plans quite so effectively as disturbed sleep, irritability, indigestion, difficulty focusing and even disorientation – no matter how temporary.
What is Jet Lag?
Jet lag is a temporary sleeping disorder that occurs any time you travel quickly across time zones. The more time zones you cross, the longer it will take your body’s internal clock to adjust to your destination time, and the more intense the symptoms of jet lag will be.
It usually takes several days for your body to adapt to the local time, during which you may experience a general feeling of being unwell – which certainly isn’t the best way to greet a new city, whether you’re there for work or for fun.
How To Prevent Jet Lag
As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is possible to help your body acclimate more quickly so you’ll feel your best when you travel – and here are some tips on how to do just that:
1. Change your sleep routine
Prep your body ahead of time for the new time zone that you’ll be travelling to.
If you’ll be going east, start going to bed earlier a few days before you’re meant to be traveling.
If you’re heading west, then start going to bed a little later instead.
This will help your body adjust accordingly to the new sleep routine you’ll have at your new destination, making it easier to adapt when you arrive.
2. Use natural light therapy
Light therapy is a new, all-natural method to help your body adjust to a new sleep schedule.
How it works: Your body’s circadian rhythm responds to your eyes detecting light. So by controlling your exposure to light, you’ll be able to help change your body’s natural rhythm; thereby helping reduce the effects of jet lag.
(Note: You’ll only need light therapy if you’re traveling across more than two time zones.)
If you’re headed east, then get bright sun exposure in the morning, and if you’re traveling west, expose yourself to light later in the day.
If you’re stuck inside, or don’t have access to natural sunlight at that time, then you can use a light box or any source of bright artificial light.
3. Eat at appropriate local times
Another thing you can do is to adjust your eating schedule a few days before traveling, so that you eat your meals according to the local time of the place you’ll be going to. (If you’re on medications or have an eating disorder, check with your doctor before doing this.)
Avoid the urge to eat at off times, and watch your protein and carbohydrate intake – if you need to stay awake, include more protein in your meals, and more carbohydrates if you’re preparing for sleep.
Even if you aren’t hungry, have something light so you can help your body prepare itself ahead of time.
4. Stay hydrated
Make sure to drink adequate amounts of water before, during, and after your flight, as dehydration can make your jet lag symptoms worse.
It’s a good idea to bring an empty water bottle with you through customs and fill it once you’re past security (or purchase some water before you get on the plane).
Avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol, as these can dehydrate you and interfere with your sleep.
5. Stay active
During the flight, get up, stretch, and take a walk around the cabin every once in a while.
Exercise will help you feel more alert, and will also help improve your sleep quality towards the end of the day.
It also has the added bonus of helping to prevent blood clots that may develop from prolonged sitting, and will get rid of any aches and pains from traveling.
6. Try a natural sleep aid
Melatonin is a natural hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness in the body. Normally, Melatonin levels rise at night to help you sleep and drop off in the morning when it’s time to wake up, but jet lag can disrupt your internal sleep clock. The melatonin in LUNA helps to reset your sleep cycle naturally.
With proper planning and preparation, it is possible to alleviate the symptoms of jet lag, or even avoid them entirely. Don’t let jet lag ruin your work trip or holiday. Instead, follow these tips so that you’ll find yourself hitting the beach instead of hitting the hay!