Jet lag- such a bummer after a nice holiday, or before the get-away has even started. Our bodies have a built-in clock – a small group of cells that tell other parts of the body what time it is and what to do accordingly – so jet lag is a series of symptoms that occur when that internal clock is off. According to the experts, it takes roughly a day for our bodies to shift just one time zone. Just think how hard your body will be working if you have to jump across a few…
Lucky for you, I’ve found some genius ways to overcome the sleep schedule issues that come with travelling to different time zones – so you can enjoy your holiday to the max this summer / winter!
Adjust your schedule before you leave. It might be a good idea to take a few days off before and after you actually travel (if at all possible). Allow your bod to chill out and relax before it gets put under the stress of adjusting to a new timezone.
Set your clock. As soon as you board, change your watch to the time at destination. You can thus plan your meals and bedtime accordingly, and it might trick your brain into thinking you’re operating at that time already.
Customize your sleep-wake rhythm. It’s especially helpful to adapt your body’s rhythm in relation to the time you will be asleep and awake in the new location. So, for example, if you’re flying east you’ll want to go to sleep on the plane. Throw on some cozy clothes, pick up any additional inflatable cushions you’d like and put in those earplugs to avoid being disturbed by the screaming babies and hostesses doling out food at all hours of the night. If you accidentally don’t get very much sleep the night before departing (because of all the excitement), then it might be a blessing in disguise since you’ll be more tired and able to easily fall asleep on the plane.
Adjust your light exposure. Did you know light can really affect your sleep? Red light is especially good for a restful snooze. Blue lights should be avoided as they will most certainly keep you from resting well (so turn those flickering TV screens off when you’re ready to nod off). Also, change up your exposure to sunlight while on the plane, as it inhibits the production of melatonin, the hormone in your body that makes you feel tired so you can sleep. Take advantage of this when you’re on the flight by keeping the window blind down when the time comes.
Stay at home. You’ll love me for saying this, but once you get home from your trip, stay home to rest up well, and try find the sun. Sunlight helps the body to adjust to new time zones and figure out what time of day it really is, naturally.
Don’t fill up on tons of food: Have you thought about the fact that airplane food has an influence on your jetlag? Both in the air and on the ground, carbohydrate-rich food can make you feel very heavy and tired. Rice, potatoes, pasta, as well as burgers enjoyed during a stopover will increase your need for sleep, and can be really helpful when you’re flying east. If you’re going west, however, you should choose lighter, more protein-rich food to help you stay awake. Meat, fish, or eggs will fill you up but not too much, so your body can use the energy to stay awake.
Drink plenty of water, but skip the alcohol and caffeine! Air inside airplanes is usually quite dry and you’ll notice your skin stretch and dry up a bit since you’re deprived of water. Every once in a while you should get a glass of water to keep your hydration at a healthy level (and keep you alert when you land – if that’s desired). Alcohol should be avoided when up above the clouds… you might find that a glass of wine helps you fall asleep faster – which could be totally true – but the effect it has is only brief. It actually dehydrates you even more and makes it harder for you to adjust to the new time zone later. Same story for coffee and black teas – stick to water or juice.
Written by Nina Clark, founder