There are few things more exciting that hopping on a plane and jetting off to a faraway destination. But sometimes the change in time zones can leave you groggy and sleepy – familiar symptoms of jet lag. While sometimes unavoidable, there are some steps that you can take to mitigate its effect. Here’s how to beat jet lag.
What exactly is jet lag anyway?
Jet lag, scientifically known as desynchronosis, is a physiological condition that upsets our body’s natural internal clock. Known as circadian rhythms, our bodies operate on a 24-hour cycle that is driven by external factors such as light. These rhythms operate most of our daily activities including sleeping, eating, and body temperature regulation. The body takes a few days to regulate circadian rhythms and in fact typically only adjusts one to two time zones crossed per day.
Additional Fun Facts
- Jet lag is worse heading east
- Jet lag affects older people more severely
- More active people are typically less susceptible to jet lag
Is there anything I can do about it?
You bet there is. Here are my top tips and tricks to beat jet lag.
Adjust Your Schedule
A few days prior to the trip, slightly alter your schedule to be more in line with your destination. For example, if I am heading east, I try and get to bed an hour or two earlier than usual.
On the Flight
Especially if you are on a red-eye flight, the moment you step on the plane you should act in the time zone of your destination. Try and plan your meals and your sleep time to be in line with where you are going. Stay extremely hydrated and avoid too much caffeine or alcohol at night.
Do Not Nap!
Everyone reacts to naps differently. I admit I am a terrible napper and always end up feeling much worse when I wake up. With regards to jet lag, it is best to try and push through and stay up as late as possible. You will be more likely to sleep through the night and adjust quicker to the right time.
Light is a huge help in staying awake and getting on track. I try and get outside as much as possible and go for a refreshing walk or run.
When you do go to sleep, keep blindfolds and earplugs to help block out unnecessary sound or light that could be disrupting much needed shut eye.
I typically do not advocate taking either prescription or over-the-counter medication as much as possible (although no medical degree here!), however if I am desperate, I will help my body regulate with the hormone melatonin. You can learn more about melatonin on the National Sleep Foundation’s website here.
What are your techniques for beating jet lag? I would love to hear from you!
Jet Set Steph