One of the most dreaded aspects of frequent travel, whether it's for business, pleasure or personal reasons, is suffering from a serious bout of jet lag. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), jet lag is a temporary disorder experienced by air travelers that cross three or more time zones at a rapid pace. The speed of travel and the inability for the body's natural clock to adjust to the current time of the destination area prevents people from sleeping at the appropriate times. If you fly on long trips on a regular basis, check out these 10 ways to cure jet lag to help you adjust to different time zones.
(To find out how a lack of sleep due to jet lag can affect your body, read 10 Negative Effects Of Sleep Deprivation.)
1. Start Adjusting To Your New Time Zone In Advance
A good way to cure or prevent jet lag is to adjust your body's clock to you destination's time zone well in advance. If possible, air travelers should attempt this schedule adjustment up to a week before their trip. One drawback of this possible cure for jet lag is it's only effective when traveling to an area that has a one hour difference in time. A time difference over one hour from one time zone to another is not as suitable for attempting an early adjustment.
2. Use Power Naps
Using frequent power naps can help you cure jet lag in no time. If possible, take a power nap whenever you feel sleepy during the first few days of your arrival. This will slowly help you adjust your sleep schedule to the correct time zone, while also leaving you alert and refreshed whenever you start to feel groggy due to a lack of sleep caused by jet lag.
3. Adjusting Between East And West
A simple cure for jet lag is to adjust your sleeping schedule depending on whether you are traveling east or west. For those who are flying east, setting an earlier sleep time a few days before departure is a good way to help the body adjust to the new time zone, while those flying west should attempt to go to bed at a later time, several days before their trip.
4. Get Comfortable On The Plane
Don't let your jet lag kick in early on a long, overnight flight. Allow yourself to feel comfortable and relaxed by wearing loose clothing and slippers. If it's a long flight, do not deprive yourself of sleep by attempting to stay awake or working on the plane. For shorter flights, a quick snooze might be all it takes to avert a disastrous change in your sleeping schedule.
5. Use Stopovers If Possible
Longer flights only mean a wider time gap for your body's internal clock. Minimize the shock of traveling to a different time zone at such a rapid pace by arranging a stopover during your travel. If you aren't restricted by time constraints or lodging costs, a stopover with a full night's rest can help your body ease its way to a new sleeping schedule.
6. Avoid Alcohol Or Caffeine
Drinking alcohol or a caffeinated beverage is very tempting on a long flight, but can be detrimental to your sleeping schedule once you've landed. Caffeine will only make it more difficult to fall asleep when you really need to. And while alcohol is commonly used to help induce sleep in the form of a "night cap," it's more likely to cause a lighter form of sleep and can either leave you feeling tired upon waking, or can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night. (For information on the possible health risks of having too much caffeine, read 10 Possible Side Effects Of Too Much Caffeine In Your Diet.)
7. Give Yourself One Day To Adjust
If you are dealing with a major adjustment in time zones after a long flight, make sure you give yourself and your body a little time to recuperate. For business trips, do not plan on leading any meetings or giving a presentation until a day after you've landed. While on vacation, plan on some easy-going sightseeing and avoid any strenuous activity that can completely suck out what little energy you have.
8. Adapt To The Local Schedule
Upon landing, it is important to get adjusted with your new time zone to cure jet lag. This includes meal schedules along with sleeping schedules. The faster you can adapt to the schedule of your new time zone, the faster you can cure your jet lag.
9. Light Therapy
Whether you are just keeping your lodgings bright and well lit to stay up later, or you've turned off all the lights and shut the curtains to make it dimmer so you sleep earlier, light therapy is a great way to adjust your sleep schedule. There are also visors and other light therapy devices available to help you cure jet lag.
10. Use Melatonin
When all else fails, some over-the-counter (OTC) melatonin is a great way to induce sleep. Melatonin is a hormone of the body that makes a person drowsy. By purchasing an OTC supplement, you can make yourself fall asleep at the appropriate times. Just make sure you avoid prolonged usage. (If you want to learn more about using melatonin to help induce sleep, read Using A Melatonin Supplement As A Sleep Aid.)