Many people enjoy the thrill of traveling. Visiting new places, experiencing different cultures and tasting different foods are all part of the fun of traveling. Yes with all this excitement, there is one downfall: Jet Lag. As one who specializes in helping others improve their sleep, there is one question I am asked the most: “What can I do to overcome jet lag?” Jet Lag is the constant travel companion that accompanies great vacations. While there are no absolutes that I have read or am aware of, what follows are a few things I have found to be helpful when traveling across time zones.
1. Resist napping
For something that requires minimal physical exertion, traveling is often exhausting. Coupled with a difference in time zones, tiredness and fatigue can feel even more overwhelming. Yet, to overcome jet lag is it important to resist the urge to nap. Napping disturbs your body’s natural ability to set a regular sleep schedule and adjusting to the time of your final destination. So, as much as you are able, resist napping.
2. Adjust your watch to the time of your final destination
At the beginning of your journey, adjust your watch to the current time of your final destination to overcome jet lag. By making the adjustment, you mentally prepare yourself for the new time zone that you will be staying. Additionally, it takes out the guesswork of having to figure out how many more hours there are left on your trip.
3. Do not restrict calories and watch what you eat
All of creation follows a circadian rhythm. Humans are no different. Circadian rhythm is the biological clock that tells our body when to wake up and when to sleep. Traveling across time zones causes a lot of disruption to our circadian rhythm. Digestion may help to reset your circadian rhythm, and diet can effect your sleep schedule. Eating light meals and avoiding alcohol can make your travel more pleasant, and in helping you to overcome jet lag.
4. Attitude is key
Attitude if everything when it comes to traveling. We’ve all had experiences when a good attitude has made a bad experience tolerable. Likewise, a healthy attitude can make all the difference to overcome jet lag. At the bare minimum, accept the fact that it will be a very long day. Find the gratitude in the moment.
5. Expose yourself to daylight whenever you can.
Whether there is sunshine, clouds, snow or rain – get outside as much as you can to expose yourself to daylight. Daylight is significant to overcome jet lag because it also helps with circadian rhythm. Being outside improves mood and awakens senses. Staying outside for as long as you can also helps to keep you awake and avoid napping.
6. Embrace the long journey
If your plans include many hours of traveling, then it helps to embrace it. It is easy to feel stuck on long flights or car rides. Yet, it becomes more bearable if you fill the time with things that you have been putting off. You can use this time to catch up on work, read, listen to a podcast or watch a movie you have been meaning to view.
7. The most important thing to overcome jet lag
Establishing a regular sleep schedule when you get to your final destination is probably the single most important thing you can do to overcome jet lag. After a long day of traveling, many people feel tired and a desire to sleep. Even if you go to bed in the early evening hours and wake up earlier than you would at home, it will help your body adjust more quickly. Then adhere to the bedtime you would usually at home the next few days.
Jet lag effects different people in different ways in duration and severity. Yet, your vacation and trip home will be more manageable you can overcome it more quickly.