Summertime is made for travel. The kids are out of school, the weather is nice and all your favorite locations are open for tourist season. Nothing can stop you from having the time of your life – except jetlag. According to the Mayo Clinic, jet lag is a temporary sleep problem that can occur when travelers quickly trek across multiple time zones. Although this disorder can cause gastrointestinal issues, reduced alertness, and fatigue, it is preventable. Here are three ways to overcome jet lag.
- Before You Travel
One of the most effective ways to combat jet lag is to properly prepare, well before you board your plane. Because jet lag centers around your normal sleep schedule, making small adjustments the week before takeoff can make a huge difference. Start by comparing your state’s current time to your future destination’s. Based on your findings, alter your bedtime by one hour each day. If you’re traveling west, go to bed later. If you’re traveling east, go to bed earlier. By following this guideline, you’ll be able to align your local and vacation sleep schedules before you arrive.
- During Your Stay
Once you land, assess how you feel. If you’re struggling to adjust to your new time zone, be mindful of the light. Your body’s circadian rhythms are affected by light and darkness. Sunlight, and bright indoor light, encourages your body to stay awake. Conversely, exposure to darkness strengthens your body’s desire to sleep. Utilize blackout curtains, sleeping masks, and your cellphone’s dark mode to prompt peaceful slumber. To energize the start of your day, get as much light as possible.
- After You Return
To restore your original sleep schedule, reverse the steps you took to prepare for your trip. Additionally, consider planning ahead by scheduling a few extra days off from work to help your body readjust. Lastly, use your flight home to get a jump start on countering jet lag. If your flight coincides with your usual bedtime, sleep on the plane. If not, make sure to stay awake.
Don’t let sleep problems interrupt your vacation plans. Use these three tips to avoid the negative effects of jet lag and enjoy your travels.