One of the worst things about travelling long distances has to be jet lag. The feeling when your body clock and your time zone just don’t line up. It can take anywhere from a day to a week to get back on track. Any time you cross more than two time zones you may find yourself with the lovely bonus gifts of fatigue, disrupted sleep patterns, irritability, loss of appetite, trouble concentrating, and more. Fun times.
If you have a jam packed schedule and forgot to account for downtime to do jet lag, you’re going to have a bad time. Here are a few ways that we at Travel Ponders do battle with jet lag.
Start Before Your Trip
Several days before your trip, gradually shift your sleeping and eating times to match up with those at your destination. Don’t try to shift your schedule by more than an hour each day though or you may just make yourself worse. Aim for a 30 min shift each day.
Book Overnight Flights
You’re more likely to sleep on a nighttime flight and, depending on how many time zones you’re crossing, will likely land at your destination in the morning. This is the best way to replicate your normal schedule. This works especially well when travelling east, like New York to London.
Get on Local Time ASAP
As soon as you step on the plan, as much as you can, shift your routine to that of your destination. If it’s dinner time in London, have a snack. If it’s nighttime in Tokyo, try to sleep.
Seek the Light
Once you land at your destination, exposure yourself to natural daylight. This will help your body adjust to its new surroundings and time zone.
Use an App
In this day and age, there’s an app for everything, jet lag included. Take a quick search through the App Store and you’ll find apps to help you schedule yourself to reduce jet lag symptoms. StopJetLag for instance will ask you for your flight details and then plan a schedule of when you should sleep, wake, seek daylight, and when to turn off the lights.
Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine
It’s so tempting to have that glass of wine on the flight to help you sleep and a cup of coffee to wake you back up but you’ll be better served by opting for the more boring, but more hydrating, water. Cabin air dehydrates and alcohol and caffeine just makes it worse. A dehydrated body is a jet lagged body.
The body uses melatonin to set its clock. Because it seems to control when we go to sleep and when we wake up, scientists believe that a melatonin supplement can alleviate jet lag symptoms. Try taking 3 milligrams of fast-release melatonin before bedtime for several days after arrival in a new time zone to ease the transition.
Change Your Diet
The Argonne Anti-Jet Lag Diet was developed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and uses a feast and fast cycle to help trigger your body into awake and sleep cycles. You start four days before your trip with a feast day, eating high protein meals for breakfast and lunch to tell your body to be alert and active and you eat a high carb supper to tell it to slow down and get ready for bed. On fast days you eat light meals. Sounds a bit kooky but it just might work.
Book a Float Session
This is an unconventional method but floating (in a sensory deprivation tank) can sometimes act like a reset on your brain. If you booked an overnight flight, book your float session for first thing after you land. The burst of theta waves may help you make the time adjustment.
Fight the Good Fight
It might be tough but try your best not to go to bed too early. If you’re particularly exhausted a 20-min afternoon nap may turn into a 3 hour snoozefest which will just further disrupt your sleep patterns leaving your wide awake at 4am surfing late night tv.