Those of us who travel overseas are all too familiar with jet lag. Before your internal clock adjusts to a new time zone, your sleep cycle is often disrupted. If you’re experiencing sleepiness during the day, insomnia at night, poor concentration, changes in appetite and irritability after a long flight, you could be experiencing jet lag.
While partially unavoidable, there are tips to lessen the severity of your symptoms.
Time Your Flight
The best option is to select a flight that arrives in the early evening, then stay up until 10 p.m. local time. Depending on the length of your flight, you could also opt for an overnight flight and try to wake up in the morning at your destination.
Anticipate Your Sleep Schedule
If you change your sleep schedule a few days before the flight, your body will be more likely to adapt after your flight. If you’re traveling east, go to bed several hours earlier and wake up earlier. If you’re going west, try to stay up a few hours later and sleep in later, if possible.
Both alcohol and caffeine are stimulants that can affect your natural sleep cycle. You should avoid these stimulants 3-4 hours before bedtime. You should also avoid heavy exercise close to bedtime. If you exercise regularly, it is best to do so earlier in the day.
Research shows that stress can potentially lead to sleeplessness. Sleeping in a new place can be stressful in itself, but if you bring some comforts from home and check your room for potential sleep disturbances (light sources, unwanted noise, etc.), it could put your mind at ease.
While prescription and over-the-counter sleep medication won’t help the biological imbalance caused by jet lag, they may help manage short-term insomnia. Melatonin is one over-the-counter option increasing in popularity. You should consult your doctor before trying them, as many can cause side effects.
Enjoy the Outdoors
When you arrive at your destination, try to spend as much time outdoors as possible. The sunlight with help your body reset its circadian rhythm to its new surroundings.
Your body usually adjusts within a couple days, but higher altitudes can make the adjustment period a bit longer. Traveling to new places can be exciting, but you don’t want jet lag to ruin your trip. I hope these tips can help you enjoy your next trip to the fullest.