When you travel, you may experience jet lag—a general feeling of fatigue or malaise that can last for days. Jet lag occurs because your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle is disrupted by the change in time zones. The farther you travel and the more time zones you cross, the more likely you are to experience jet lag.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to jet lag, but there are some steps you can take to minimize its effects.
1. Get plenty of sleep before your trip.
This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s important to get your body into a healthy sleep schedule before you travel. If you’re well-rested before your trip, you’ll be less likely to feel the effects of jet lag when you arrive at your destination.
2. Adjust to the new time zone gradually.
If you can, try to arrive at your destination a few days before your trip. This will give you time to adjust to the new time zone gradually. If you can’t arrive early, try to stay up later than usual the night before your trip. This will help you get closer to the new time zone’s sleep schedule.
3. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
Alcohol and caffeine can both contribute to dehydration, which can make jet lag worse. If you do drink alcohol or caffeine, be sure to stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
4. Get exposure to natural light.
Exposing yourself to natural light can help to regulate your body’s sleep-wake cycle. When you first arrive at your destination, try to get outside as much as possible. This will help you adjust to the new time zone more quickly.
5. Avoid napping.
It can be tempting to take a nap when you first arrive at your destination, but this can actually make jet lag worse. Napping will make it harder for you to fall asleep at night, and you’ll end up feeling more tired during the day.
Exercise can help to reduce the effects of jet lag. A moderate amount of exercise is the best way to go. You don’t want to overdo it, as this can make jet lag worse.
7. Eat light meals.
Eating heavy meals can make you feel sluggish, so it’s best to eat light meals when you’re trying to adjust to a new time zone. Stick to foods that are easy to digest, and avoid fatty and fried foods.
8. Stay hydrated.
Dehydration can make jet lag worse, so it’s important to stay hydrated when you travel. Drink plenty of water, and avoid alcohol and caffeine.
9. Avoid screen time before bed.
The light from screens can disrupt your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. If you can, avoid using screens for at least an hour before you go to bed. This will help you sleep better and feel more rested during the day.
Try to relax and de-stress as much as possible. Jet lag can be worse if you’re feeling anxious or stressed. If you can, take some time to relax and unwind before your trip. This will help you feel better when you arrive at your destination.