Want to overcome that heavy, drowsy feeling you get when traveling to a different time zone? Here are some expert-approved strategies that will help prevent jet lag, so you can maximize your next vacation.
Jet lag is defined as “the specific, temporary condition that occurs when you travel across several time zones in a brief time span.”
Once we’re at the new location, our body clock is mismatched with what the local time actually is. In order to adjust our circadian rhythm, we need the right amount of exposure to light. Here’s what you can do before, during, and after your flight.
Before your flight
Normally, your body would adjust to a new location one time zone a day. To speed this up, you can move your bedtime and wake-up time by 15 or 30 minutes, gradually increasing this a few days before your flight.
If you’re heading west, delay your bedtime and wake-up time, while if you’re traveling east, you’ll want to head to bed and wake up earlier than usual.
You may be skeptical about the small increments, but this will help ease your body’s transition to the new time zone.
Apps like Timeshifter, Arcascope, and Entrain can help you organize your schedule so you don’t forget.
During your flight
Sometimes, on direct trips, airlines will help you adjust to the destination’s time zone by mimicking its sunrise and sunset.
If you’re traveling through connecting flights, you’ll have to take matters into your own hands. Once you’re on the plane, you can wear an eye mask while it’s nighttime at your destination.
When it’s daytime, you can expose your eyes to light. Wearable gadgets like AYO provide you with enough bright blue light to trick your body into thinking it’s outdoors in the sunshine.
After your flight
Once you land, you’ll want to expose yourself to light as soon as you can. This is as easy as stepping outdoors.
If it’s a cloudy day, consider bringing a light box with you. You can carry it around or simply set it on your nightstand once you arrive at your accommodations.
If it’s nighttime when you land, do what you can to fall asleep at the right time. You can take some Melatonin to help you sleep and even wear your eye mask if it helps.
Hopefully these tips will help keep you awake and alert so that you can enjoy as much of your vacation as you can.
Banner photo via Pexels by Vlada Karpovich.