After all the anticipation and effort, you’ve finally reached your destination. And, guess who’s there to greet you?
Mr. Jet Lag.
When you travel across multiple time zones, your body’s internal clock is not in sync with the destination time zone. Thus, your daily sleep and wakefulness rhythms are out of whack, resulting in sluggishness and diminished performance.
So, what’s a long distance or international traveler to do? Whether you’re on business or a dream vacation, you want to be at your best, regardless of the time zone. Here are a few tips:
1. Get plenty of exercise and rest prior to your flight, while maintaining a nutritious diet. Plus, make sure you’re well hydrated. The healthier you are, the less jet lag will affect you.
2. Most experts agree that it takes one day for your body to adjust for each time zone traveled. Take steps to minimize jet lag, factoring in the direction you’re traveling:
- West – Just prior to your departure, get up one hour later and go to bed one hour later for as many days as time zones you’ll be crossing. Granted, this may not be possible for long trips such as international travel.
- East – Use the opposite technique – Getting up one hour earlier and going to bed one hour earlier.
3. Since sunlight significantly affects your body clock, control your light exposure before you travel:
- West – Avoid sunlight in the morning, and get it in the late afternoon and evening.
- East – Get sunlight in the morning, and avoid light in the evening as much as possible.
- If it’s overcast, simulate the sun’s effects with a light therapy box.
- Wear sunglasses if you have to be in sunlight when you should avoid it.
4. During travel, regardless of the direction, be sure to:
- Drink plenty of water, while avoiding large meals, alcohol and caffeine.
- Move around the cabin regularly to promote circulation in both the body and brain.
- Wear comfortable clothing.
- Sleep, if possible. If you have difficulty sleeping on flights, consider taking a sleep aid (though we recommend consulting your physician first).
5. Upon arrival:
- Avoid critical decision-making in the first day (if at all possible).
- Adapt to the local schedule immediately, eating meals and going to bed at the appropriate times .
- Get as much sunlight as you can.
None of us has time for jet lag. But, if you take to time to properly prepare, jet lag’s time is up.