Vacations are one of the most anticipated events of anyone’s year. If your trip takes you across several time zones, you may face the dreaded jet lag. Your body has its own internal clock, called circadian rhythms. These rhythms signal your body when to awake and when to sleep. Jet lag takes place when you travel to another time zone but your body’s internal clock is still synced to your original time zone. The more time zones you cross, the more likely you are to experience symptoms of jet lag.
Jet lag can make you feel lousy and irritable. It can make it hard to sleep at night and may make it hard for you to concentrate. In severe cases, jet lag can ruin your entire vacation. It’s best to prepare in advance than to wait and see how it affects you. Here are the best ways to prevent and minimize jet lag.
The week before your trip, eat well and get plenty of sleep. Also, consider moving your bedtime one hour each day to prepare for the earlier or later wake-up times at your vacation destination. If possible eat meals closer to the time that you will eat them during your trip.
Once you reach your new destination, avoid sleeping until the local nighttime, if possible. Eat your meals with local mealtimes, etc. It is also good to set your watch and phone to the new time before you leave, tricking your mind into accepting the new time zone. If it is nighttime at the new destination while you are on the plane, try to sleep using earplugs, eye masks, etc.
Dehydration can worsen the physical symptoms of jet lag and because of the dry air in planes, dehydration is common when traveling by air. Combat this by drinking plenty of fluids (water is always best) and avoiding caffeine and alcohol, which can promote dehydration and disturb sleep patterns.
It is possible that the release of insulin can help with your circadian rhythms. We suggest eating a carb-heavy dinner when traveling eastward and a carb-heavy breakfast when heading westward.
Even with proper planning, expect some form of jet lag. That is why we advise you to keep the first few days light, just in case your body isn’t feeling well or needs extra sleep to recuperate.
We suggest exercising before your trip and when you get to your destination. Being active has beneficial effects on the mind and body, plus some people believe that exercise helps align your internal clock.
Even seasoned travelers can experience jet lag; however, the above tips and tricks can reduce or prevent severe jet lag in many individuals. By doing everything possible to minimize the effects of jet lag, your internal clock will reset faster and you will be able to enjoy more of your vacation time.