In our globalized society, many of us travel a lot. And, if the crowded seats, recycled air and bad food isn’t enough to run us down, there’s jet lag to help make this an assuredly unpleasant occasion. Jet lag includes symptoms like fatigue during the day, insomnia at night, poor concentration, irritability, and headaches and digestion problems.
Generally, the remedy for jet lag breaks down to an equation: for each hour of time difference it takes that many full days to get your waking and sleeping schedule back in sync. In other words, if you are flying to a destination that’s three hours ahead, you will need three full days to normalize your internal clock (circadian rhythm). That might work for the vacation traveler, but when you’re globetrotting, snatching red eyes, or constantly hopping between time zones, no one has that much time to adjust, and getting sick just isn’t an option.
In speaking with some professionals who travel across the United States and around the globe often for work, here are some tips that they have shared to help manage jet lag:
- Relax your Normal Routines
Jet lag is especially difficult for those with rigid sleep schedules. If you do tend to sleep at certain hours and you have a trip coming up, gradually adjust your sleep schedule by going to sleep earlier or later in accordance with your upcoming destination for about four days before you travel. Also, add your destination to your clock on your phone, checking it frequently to assimilate yourself to your destination’s local time.
- Melatonin as a Natural Sleep Aid
When you travel to a destination in a time zone a few hours ahead, it can be much more difficult to fall asleep at the local time at night. Taking an over-the-counter dose of a melatonin supplement can help you get to sleep and adjust to your new location. Melatonin is produced by the body—it is a natural hormone, which is released to regulate your circadian rhythm. Using this supplement can help you get to sleep while your body is adjusting to the shift in time. Please consult your physician before taking any supplements as they could have unintended interactions with other medications or treatments.
- Avoid Falling Asleep too Early
If your travel destination falls a few hours behind your local time, try to stay awake until a normal bedtime hour for your new time zone, especially for the first night. You may be exhausted, but make an effort to stay awake until at least 9 or 10 p.m. while also avoiding caffeine and other stimulants. When you do fall asleep, you want to rest soundly. If you follow these directions and are able to sleep well that first night, you are likely to wake up in the morning feeling refreshed.
Some of the common symptoms of jet lag such as headache, lethargy, irritability and upset stomach can be exacerbated by and even confused with dehydration. Staying hydrated water will not cure your jet lag, but it could reduce some symptoms and help you feel more comfortable. Also, avoid alcohol and caffeine as these substances can dehydrate you. Feel free to resume your normal routines after the first couple of days have passed.
- Take in the Sun
Sunlight is one of the more effective and efficient sources in regulating your internal clock. Spend time outdoors, especially on your first day in the new time zone. Also, all forms of light can interrupt your sleep pattern, so using a sleep mask or blackout shades while making sure all TVs, computers, cell phones, tablets, etc. are shut off or outside of your bedroom while you sleep is important.
For more information about natural remedies for jet lag, please click here: Jet Lag Remedies