Helping Your Body Adjust
Jet lag is a common physical effect that many travelers experience when crossing several time zones. The shift in time can sometimes be hard to deal with and can lead to tiredness, irritability, loss of focus, and more. While there’s no set cure for jet lag, there are a few things you can do to help fight it:
Adjust your sleep schedule beforehand
When you’re accustomed to going to bed at a certain time, it can make time differences tough; traveling several hours into the past or the future can be confusing for your body. You can help combat this by adjusting your sleep schedule a couple weeks before you travel: If you’re traveling east, move your bedtime to 30 minutes earlier each night until you’re going to bed at the right time; if you’re traveling west, move it to 30 minutes later. This can help get your body acclimated to the time difference you’ll experience.
Drink plenty of water
Though it seems like a rather simple way to combat jet lag, water can do wonders. Make it a point to stay hydrated in the days leading up to your trip and then during your trip as well. Water can help you sleep better, focus more, and make you more alert when you need to be. It’s also important to stay away from things that could counteract the water and dehydrate you, like caffeine and alcohol.
Take advantage of natural light
Your body’s natural clock is based largely on natural light exposure, which means you tend to get tired when it’s dark out and awake when it’s light out. This can work to your advantage when coping with jet lag – simply regulate your exposure to natural light. If you’re traveling east, limit your exposure in the morning and try to get more during the afternoon and evening; if you’re traveling west, get as much exposure in the morning as possible and reduce it during the afternoon and evening. Doing this can help you re-adjust your natural clock so that you’re tired when it’s dark and awake when it’s light.
Make good meal choices
While you may have heard about “jet lag diets,” none have been proven to actually help with jet lag. However, what you eat and when can help your body adjust. For example, if you’re tired when you reach your destination, avoid eating a large meal and instead, opt for something light. In addition, avoid binging on vacation and try to keep your diet to a healthy balance of protein, whole grains, and good fats while you’re traveling. You’ll feel better and your body will be able to adjust easier.