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Tips and Tricks for overcoming Jet Lag

With the summer in full swing, it seems like more and more people are hopping in the car, jumping on a plane and heading to vacation. With lots of fun planned for the road ahead we often forget to factor in the most important part: Sleep!

Getting enough sleep is the key to being able to have enough energy to tackle even the most strenuous summer vacation, but that can be hard when flights land you in different time zones, or car trips have kept you up all night driving. We’ve put together a list to help you fight the lag and let the good times keep rolling!

Jet lag is caused by a distortion to our bodies normal “circadian rhythm” or sleep and wake cycle. This cycle is maintained by exposure to sunlight, normal meal times and our natural everyday routine, all of which are thrown off with travel! The bright side is that jet lag is temporary, and with these tips will hopefully help shorten the time you spend adjusting to your new time zone!

  • Pre-Flight: If you have a few days before your flight, try to prepare for your new time zone by changing up your bed time. For people traveling West to East this would mean shifting your bedtime earlier during the days leading up to your trip. This helps your body adjust to the sleep and wake cycles of the new time zone ahead of time.
  • During your Flight: In transit and on the plane it is important to stay hydrated, as well as avoiding alcohol and caffeine if possible. Dehydration, alcohol and caffeine all disrupt our natural sleep patterns. While on the plane switch your watch to the current time at your destination. This will help you mentally prepare for what stage of the day it will be upon arrival. If the destination time designates waking hours when you’re in transit, try to stay awake, or sleep if it is normal sleeping hours. Avoiding napping and trying to mimic the sleep and wake cycles of your destination sets your body into that routine before arrival, hopefully shortening the affects of jet lag.
  • Post Flight: When your final destination is reached, seek out the sun! Being outdoors during the day is the best natural stimulant for adjusting to your new environment. If you happen to arrive during the night, try to catch some Z’s. This is the hardest part of your jet lag journey, and if you need some help sleeping it is ok to consider a sleep aid such as melatonin. Make sure to consult with a physician beforehand if you are considering taking any kind of sleep aid.

Sleep is the most important part of our lives, it is where our body resets and relaxes for the following day. So rest up! Avoid the jet lag, and keep traveling!

 

(Sources: National Sleep Foundation, WebMD)