Your bags are packed, your plane ticket is ready, and you’re about to travel to some far away land to have an adventure. When you touch down at your destination, you’ll be greeted with unique culture, food, locations, and people. Exciting right? Yes, except for one unfortunate drawback – jet lag.
Jet lag can put a damper on your travel plans, especially when you don’t have a lot of time at your destination to adjust to the new time zone. You don’t want to be asleep in the middle of the day instead of outside exploring.
While you will most likely experience jet lag for a while after your trip, there are several jet lag cures that give you an easier time adjusting to the time difference.
What is Jet Lag?
Jet lag is a relatively new development in human history. It probably started around the time humans invented the jet airplane (hence the term). Commercialising air travel allowed humans to travel faster than ever before – with a slightly unexpected downside.
Jet lag is the phenomenon when a person’s circadian rhythm isn’t in sync with the local time zone at their destination. This tends to happen when you’ve hopped on a plane, taken and a long flight and flown too far westward or eastward of your original location that your body hasn’t had time to adjust.
You’ll probably experience several effects of jet lag including excessive sleepiness or insomnia, lethargy, fatigue, and irritability. Don’t worry though! Jet lag can be cured much faster with a few simple tips.
Bask in the Sunlight
One of the best ways to adjust your body clock to a local time zone is to take in as much natural light as you can so you don’t feel as sleepy in the middle of the day. This method helps your body adjust to the rhythm of lightness and darkness of your new destination.
You could also try light therapy. This technique involves intentionally exposing yourself to a bright light to simulate sunshine with the use of a lightbox in order to adjust your circadian rhythm to the local time at your destination.
Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
Though some people say that drinks with these substances actually help you stay awake (caffeine) or go to sleep (alcohol), they actually interfere with your body’s natural sleep and wake patterns and its ability to adjust your internal clock to local time.
It’s also best to avoid alcohol and caffeine prior to and on the flight so you can start adjusting more naturally by the time you start travelling and without getting dehydrated.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Another reason to avoid alcohol and caffeine is that they can tend to dehydrate your body. Hydration is important in alleviating symptoms of jet lag overall. So, skip the glass of wine or cup of coffee on the plane and drink plenty of water and healthy juices to keep you hydrated.
Shift as Soon as Possible
Many people have hectic schedules that might make this a little difficult, but even a few days before your trip, it helps to start adjusting your sleep-wake patterns closer to the local time at the destination.
This means sleeping a little later every night a few days before your long-haul flight if you’re travelling westward and sleeping a bit earlier on several consecutive nights before travelling eastward.
The moment you land at your destination, start living as the locals do – to an extent. Wake up when they do, adjust your eating patterns to match the local time, engage in activities that will keep you awake through the day, take a short power nap if you really need to, and do your best to sleep at the local bedtime to adjust your sleep schedule.
Anticipate the unfortunate but inevitable symptoms of jet lag and take it into account when you start planning your trip. The last thing you want is to be half-asleep in the middle of going through your travel itinerary. Follow these tips and you’ll beat jet lag and be on an adventure before you know it.