As a seasoned traveler, you have likely experienced jet lag at one time or another. But this temporary sleep disorder (which may occur any time you transition from one time zone to another) doesn’t have to ruin your vacation. While you may not be able to eliminate jet lag completely, there are some ways to lessen its effects. Following are a few simple tips to help you fight off any jet lag symptoms that you might face.
- Fly into the day: If possible, try to book a flight that lands in the daytime, since exposure to sunlight helps reset your body clock and jump start your energy levels.
- Adjust your schedule: By gradually shifting your eating and sleeping habits prior to your trip to coincide with those at your destination, you’ll make it easier for your body to adjust to new surroundings.
- Go outside: Once you reach your destination, spend as much time as possible outdoors. The fresh air will keep you awake and the exercise will make it easier to fall asleep later in the day. If you must nap when you arrive at your destination, nap two hours or less (wake up with the help of an alarm) and force yourself to go outside.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water during your flight and avoiding alcohol and caffeine not only lessens the effects of jet lag, but also prevents dehydration.
- Eat at proper times: Eat at the same time as locals, especially when you land in your destination. Even though your body may think it is 2:00 a.m., but it’s 7:00 a.m. local time, get off the plane and eat breakfast – even if you aren’t starving. This will help your body and mind adjust to the time difference and keep you on a proper pace for the rest of the day.
- Control your contact with light: Light is the primary environmental cue telling your body’s clock when to sleep and when to wake. If you are traveling east, expose yourself to light early and avoid it in the late afternoon. You can limit light by wearing sunglasses and a hat or finding an indoor activity such as walking through a museum. If you are traveling west, expose yourself to light at dusk and the early part of the evening which will delay your body clock. You can do this the first day or two of your trip and you can even start doing this before you leave for your trip while adjusting your sleep schedule.
- Stick to your nightly routine: Follow your nightly routine while traveling as it will prepare your mind for bed. We also recommend taking a warm bath to relax your muscles and drinking hot tea. Spraying some lavender oil on your pillow will also help as its aromatherapy scent decreases anxiety and insomnia. Try to avoid electronics, devices, and TV as the blue screen will keep your mind awake.
Don’t let jet lag impact your vacation – follow the tips above to recover quickly and embark on your vacation as scheduled.