You get off your flight and you’re groggy, irritable, and have a splitting headache. That night, you struggle to fall asleep. You’ve got jet lag.
You don’t have to travel to another country or continent to experience this. Just traveling a couple of time zones can alter your circadian rhythm, especially if you’re flying east.
Here are a few simple tips to help reduce the effects of jet lag.
Plan for Jet Lag Before Your Trip
To prevent jet lag as much as possible, start lining up your sleep schedule to the time zone you’re traveling to. Either stay up later or go to bed earlier for a few days before you fly.
Make time to accommodate jet lag effects after you land. Give your body time to adjust and don’t plan anything rigorous for the first day or two after you arrive.
Regulate Light Exposure
Light exposure can push back the release of melatonin hormones that make you tired. If you’re traveling east, get as much light as possible in the morning to help adjust to an earlier time zone. And if you’re traveling west, exposing yourself to light in the evening helps you adjust to a later time zone.
Adapt to Your New Schedule
Once you arrive, time your meals and bedtime to the time zone you are now in. Your devices will automatically update, which makes it easier, but you may have to wait a few extra hours to eat.
Whether you stay up a couple extra hours, or fall asleep early, the quicker you can get into your new time zone routine, the better.
Watch Your Caffeine Intake
Caffeine can be your best friend or worst enemy.
You can use it as a tool to help you stay awake until you reach a normal bedtime in your new time zone. But if you’re flying into a later time zone, remember to limit your caffeine intake that day. This makes it easier to fall asleep when you land.
Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your flight to counter the dryness of cabin air. Many people try to limit their water intake to limit bathroom breaks, but this is detrimental to keeping your body on a normal cycle.
Melatonin is sold as a supplement in most stores and pharmacies. If you need to fall asleep, consider taking some to help get into a normal sleep pattern in your new city.
This works differently for everyone. If it doesn’t work for you, and you travel often, consider talking to your doctor about other options for sleep aids.
Do you have any jet lag tips we didn’t mention? Share them in the comments below!
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