Although traveling is pretty limited since the coronavirus is still a major issue in many countries, you might already be preparing your 2021 travels. One consideration you'll need to make when planning a trip is what to do to battle the effects of jet lag.
Jet lag is a temporary condition characterized as a sleep disorder where your body's natural sleep patterns are disturbed after traversing multiple time zones. You might feel like falling asleep in the middle of the day as a result or feel wide awake in the wee hours of the morning. Being fatigued or dealing with insomnia isn't a great way to start off a vacation. So, how do you avoid it?
You might not necessarily be able to avoid the effects of jet lag all together, but you can set yourself up for success by following the tips below.
What are the Symptoms of Jet Lag?
We already mentioned a few of the symptoms of jet lag, but here is a more in-depth look at how jet lag may manifest:
- A general feeling of malaise
- Stomach issues
- Trouble concentrating
- Daytime tiredness
- Sleep issues like insomnia
The more time zones you cross, the worst your jet lag is likely to be. It generally takes around one day to recover for each time zone that is traversed. So, how do you prevent this? Keep reading to find out.
Step 1: Arrive to Your Destination Early
Maybe you're traveling to a different part of the world to make a business presentation. If you need to be in top form on the day of your presentation, it's a good idea to give yourself time to adjust to a different time zone. So, try to arrive a few days early to give your body time to adjust and rest. This gives you more time to feel like your normal self when it matters!
Step 2: Prioritize Sleep Before You Leave
If you can give yourself a set schedule and even a little extra sleep before you leave for your trip, your body might fare better under the stresses of travel. If you are already sleep-deprived before your trip, your jet lag symptoms might be magnified.
Step 3: Adjust Your Schedule Before You Leave
Start to adjust your schedule forward or back based on the time zone you're entering before you leave. Begin altering the time you sleep, wake up, and eat to be closer to your destination's time zone. This will make the transition much easier on your body.
Step 4: Pay Attention to Light Exposure
Light is a huge influence on your circadian rhythm. You can use it as a tool for adjusting to your travel destination. For example, if you're traveling westward and getting accustomed to a later time zone, you can expose yourself to bright line to keep you up later.
Step 5: Stay on Your New Schedule
Before you leave home, set your watch to your new destination's time. And when you arrive, try to wait until night or evening time before you go to sleep. You can take a short nap to help manage fatigue, but it's very easy to fall into a deeper slumber - so be careful if you decide to nap. You might also want to attempt to nap on the plane ride - try out memory foam pillows if you have trouble sleeping on planes.
Step 6: Drink Lots of Water
Staying hydrated is critical for avoiding jet lag and feeling healthy. Drinking plenty of water can help you feel better when you're in the dry cabin air on an airplane. Being dehydrated can exacerbate the symptoms of jet lag - so try to avoid both alcohol and caffeine if you can.
Takeaways: Avoiding Jet Lag
Traveling opens up a world of possibilities, but jet lag can make the initial days at your destination very unpleasant. If you want to avoid the symptoms of jet lag, start by planning far in advance. Alter your schedule during the week of your planned travel to better align with the destination's time zone. You should also consider giving yourself at least a day or two of time to rest and adjust. And, most importantly, don't forget to drink lots of water to combat jet lag and the dry, cold air of an airplane. With these tips, you can start your trip off on the right foot!