Jet lag can be a nightmare but it is possible to get proper rest while traveling internationally.
There are few things that can match the excitement of planning an international trip. Unfortunately, those feelings of excitement and adventure are often met with fatigue upon arrival.
You didn’t manage to get much sleep on the plane and now your body feels slightly hungover – welcome to the world of jet lag.
Anytime your time zone shifts more than two hours, jet lag becomes highly likely, and the more time zones you cross, the worse it gets. If you will be traveling to a time zone that will require you to go to bed earlier, jet lag can feel even worse. This is because it’s much easier to delay your bedtime than forcing your body to go to bed earlier.
Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to alleviate the symptoms associated with jet lag.
How to Prevent Jet lag from Disrupting Your Sleep Cycle
1. Plan Ahead
To minimize the effects of jet lag, it helps to start adjusting your sleep schedule several days before your trip. Go to bed a little earlier or later every day to help your body’s internal clock get closer to your destination’s time zone.
2. Use Lighting to Your Advantage
Some experts recommend manipulating light to help your internal clock get back on track. Your body reacts to the daily cycles of lightness and darkness, which means you can use this to your advantage while traveling. Get out into the bright sunlight in the morning and spend as much time as you can in natural light throughout your day. Start surrounding yourself with dimmer lights as the day progresses or as you want to start feeling more relaxed and sleepy. Once you’re ready to sleep, or at least try to sleep, make sure that the room is completely dark.
3. Consider Fasting Before Your Flight
Because digestion and metabolism also play a role in your sleep cycles, it is possible to use food to reset your internal clock and minimize the symptoms associated with jet lag. According to a study by Harvard Medical School, fasting for about 16 hours before or during your flight could reduce the effects of jetlag. For example, you could eat a very late lunch/early dinner at about 4pm and only eat breakfast again at 8am. By getting into your usual breakfast, lunch, and dinner times in the new time zone, your circadian (sleep) rhythms will benefit too.
4. Ask Your Physician about a Melatonin Supplement
Natural sleep aids such as Melatonin can be a big help while you’re traveling. Melatonin helps your body’s internal clock sync up to your new time zone and is particularly helpful if you’re crossing five or more zones. Speak to your general physician about whether Melatonin is a viable option for you.
5. Stay Up a Full Day or Night
Sometimes the best way to avoid jet lag is to force your body to adapt to the new time zone. Pulling an all-nighter or staying up all day could be helpful and make it easier for your body to adjust. You are going to be tired though, so make sure that you’re not doing anything that will put you in harm’s way.
Now that you know how you can minimize the effects of jetlag, you can look forward to loads more sleep and energy on your next trip.