Jet lag is, unfortunately, a reality of traveling. Jet lag is considered a temporary sleep disorder, and if you’re traveling across time zones, there is the potential it can affect you.
For example, if you pay to stash your luggage, spend the day exploring Las Vegas and then take the red-eye home that night, as so many people do you might deal with jet lag. This is just one example, however, and anytime you go to a new time zone, there’s the potential to experience jet lag.
Typically, the more time zones you cross during your travels, the more likely it is that you’ll have jet lag.
Symptoms of jet lag can include daytime drowsiness, feeling unwell, stomach issues, and problems with alertness. It’s temporary, but it can cause problems during your travels.
Jet lag occurs because when you change time zones, it messes with your circadian rhythms, which are your internal clocks.
There’s some evidence that cabin pressure in an airplane can affect jet lag too and there’s low humidity in planes that can dehydrate you and further contribute to your symptoms.
If you have a trip coming up, the following are some things to keep in mind to help avoid jet lag.
Choose Flights That Arrive When It’s Daylight
If you choose a flight that arrives at daylight, it’ll be easier for you to stay awake when you land because you’ll want to get out and explore.
Also, when you’re choosing flights, the type of plane you’re on can help you beat jet lag. A350s and A380s are considered the best planes to avoid jet lag.
There are a few reasons for this. First, these planes have advanced humidification systems to help the air stay moister, and they also have LED systems that can simulate the day’s natural light phases.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that lets your body and brain know when it’s time to go to sleep. You can also take it as a supplement, and experts feel it can help you generally fall asleep but also avoid jet lag.
If you take anywhere from three to five milligrams around 30 minutes before you hope to fall asleep, it can help you when you’re traveling. If you’re traveling east, you’ll want to use morning light to regulate your body clock and then take melatonin in the evening to speed it up.
If you’re traveling west, you should take melatonin in the morning to rewind your internal clock.
While melatonin can be really useful when you’re traveling, you might want to avoid other types of sleeping pills—particularly prescription options.
Don’t Sleep Late After You Arrive
When you get to your destination, the day after you arrive, you may want to sleep in, but if you can help it, don’t. You should try to sleep no later than 9 a.m. local time.
This helps you get your internal clock in sync with the time of where you are.
If you force yourself to get up early, it will also help you fall asleep the next night at local time. If you follow these tips by your second day you should wake up feeling much more adjusted.
Turn Off the Screens
Any screens you might be using can emit white and blue light. This includes our phones and other mobile devices. This light interferes with our natural melatonin production. Try to turn off the screens at least an hour before you hope to go to bed.
A Few Other Tips
There are a few other things to keep in mind if you’re traveling. First, if you have something important such as a meeting, try to get your destination a day or two early, at least, so you can start to adjust.
Before you take a trip make sure you get plenty of sleep and if you can, try to adjust your schedule gradually before you leave.
If you’re going to be traveling east, try to go to bed an hour earlier each night for a few days before you’re flying out and do the opposite if you’re going west. Also start trying to eat your meals closer to the time you’ll eat when you arrive at your destination.
Don’t underestimate the importance of proper light exposure either, because light is our body’s primary cue for our circadian rhythm. Light exposure in the evening helps you adjust if you’re traveling west, and morning light exposure helps you if you’re traveling east.