5 Simple Sleep Hacks For Jet Lag
Millions of travelers experience jet lag, a temporary sleep disorder caused by traveling across multiple time zones.
If you travel across time zones, you may experience jet lag until your internal clock has fully adjusted to your final destination’s time zone.
Don’t let this sleep disorder ruin your next trip—try these 5 sleep hacks for jet lag:
Adjust Your Sleep Schedule in Advance
The fight against jet lag should begin several nights before you leave for your trip. If you’re planning on traveling east, start going to bed a little earlier at night. If you’re planning on traveling west, start going to bed a little later at night.
Adjust your bedtime by about 30 minutes each day for 3-4 days before you leave.
This gradual shift in your sleep schedule will slowly prepare your body for the new time zone. This prevents jet lag by ensuring that your body does not need to make drastic changes once you arrive in the new time zone.
Stay Awake When You Arrive
You probably feel like going straight to bed the moment you step off the plane, but that may not be the best decision. To beat jet lag, it’s best to stay awake until 10 p.m. local time.
Going to bed at this hour will help your body’s internal clock reset so you can quickly get on a normal sleep schedule in your new time zone.
If you arrive early in the morning—or have an especially long trip—it may seem nearly impossible to keep your eyes open until 10 p.m. If you need to rest during the day, nap for no more than two hours in the early afternoon. This short nap should give you enough energy to last until 10 p.m.
Change Your Diet
There are certain foods and drinks that can make the symptoms of jet lag worse or drag on for longer than usual. To fight jet lag, make these changes to your diet before and during your trip:
- Avoid foods that cause heartburn since this painful condition may keep you up at night and interfere with your sleep.
- Don’t drink alcoholic or caffeinated beverages before bedtime.
- Eat a light snack—not a heavy meal—once you arrive at your final destination.
- Consume a healthy balance of protein, complex carbohydrates, and plant-based foods to keep your energy levels high.
Making these minor adjustments can minimize the negative effects of jet lag.
Be sure to also change your schedule so you are only eating meals and snacks when it is time to eat in your new time zone. This will help your body quickly adjust to your new time zone.
Use Natural Light to Reset Your Internal Clock
Natural light plays an important role in the regulation of your sleep schedule. If no natural light is detected, the pineal gland releases melatonin, which is a hormone that prepares the body for sleep. However, if you are exposed to natural light, your body will assume that it’s time to wake up, so it will stop producing melatonin.
Controlling your exposure to natural light can reset your internal clock and beat jet lag.
For example, you may have trouble waking up in the morning if you have traveled east. Your body is still synched to your old time zone, so even though it’s 6 a.m. in your new time zone, your body thinks it’s the middle of the night. In this case, exposing yourself to natural light when you wake up can reset your internal clock.
The natural light will tell your body that it’s time to wake up, and your body will respond by adjusting your sleep-wake cycle to fit your new time zone.
Create the Ideal Sleeping Environment
You may have trouble falling asleep at the appropriate hour if your body is still adjusting to your new time zone. To make it easier, create an ideal sleeping environment once you arrive at your final destination. Here’s what to do:
- Turn the thermostat down. Research shows that the ideal sleeping temperature is between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Drown out distracting noise by wearing ear plugs or playing soothing sounds that will help you fall asleep.
- Tidy up before you hit the hay. It’s harder to fall asleep in a cluttered room, so clean up before you try to go to sleep.
- Choose comfortable sleepwear that does not restrict your movement or make you too hot or cold.
Now you know how to create the perfect sleeping environment to combat jet lag on your next trip.
It doesn’t matter whether you are traveling for fun or business—jet lag can be a real drag. But, following these tips can help you beat jet lag so you can look and feel your best once you arrive at your final destination!
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