Being introduced to new sights and experiences are main attractions of traveling. But when visiting regions that are outside of your time zone, it can be hard to fully appreciate the experience while battling through the haze of jet lag. Traveling itself can be exhausting and it is only made worse when combined with jet lag. Perfect vacations can be ruined by the irritability and fatigue that jet lag causes and not to mention, the stomach disturbances and mood changes that it promotes. Thankfully there are plenty of life hacks that can reduce the effect jet lag has on your vacation. These travel tips will have you back on schedule and ready to go in no time.
Reset The Human Clock
It is important to be able to identify the signs of jet lag. The body has a very precise clock that works on a molecular level and is active in almost all of our body systems. Your digestive system, hormones and even your body temperature are all dependent on this internal clock. While traveling, you force your body to dramatically alter its rhythm, which causes all sorts of unforeseen disturbances. These can extend far beyond the typical sleepiness that is commonly associated with jet lag. Along with sleepiness comes the inability to sleep, and inconsistent bowel movements. Clearly, this sudden shift in your body’s clock has adverse consequences for you health and well-being if not dealt with correctly.
Jet Lag Hacks
Thankfully there are some small easy travel hacks that can dramatically reduce the effect of jet lag. The National Sleep Foundation recommends acclimating your body to the time zone you are visiting, several days before embarking on the trip. In other words, if you are headed eastward, start waking up and going to bed earlier before your trip and if you are headed westward, shift your schedule a couple hours later. This will create a more incremental adjustment for your body and will avoid shocking your system more than necessary. In addition, try to schedule flights that will have the least impact on your sleep schedule. For instance, aim to arrive at your destination in the early evening and force yourself to stay up until at least 10:00pm local time.
Once you have boarded your flight, immediately switch your phone clock and watch the time at your destination. This will begin to condition your brain to work within the new schedule it is being introduced to. Don’t order caffeinated beverages on the flight or indulge in too many sugary treats. Both of these substances will affect your body’s rhythm and make it harder to adapt to the change. Another tip is to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your trip. Unlike caffeine and sugar, water will help your body adjust and keep all your systems running smoothly.
At The Destination
Who knew that getting enough sunlight is one of the biggest factors in setting your body’s clock? Being inside all day is a great way to confuse your body and will result in a nasty jet lag. So put on some sunscreen and head out for a day in the sun upon your arrival! Your body will thank you for it later. On the flip side, try to avoid too much time in the sun during the hours leading to bedtime. The direct light slows your body’s production of melatonin which is an essential part of feeling tired and being able to sleep.
Finally, when it is time for bed at your destination, be sure to make yourself comfortable. Bring a pillow from home if possible to create a more familiar atmosphere. Try to get your room as dark as possible and aim for a cooler sleeping temperature. Set a morning alarm so you don’t have to be subconsciously worried about oversleeping. Turn your phone off and any other electronics, to prevent sudden noises and get ready for a great night’s sleep
When dealing with jet lag, it is the decisions you make in the first 24 hours that will have the greatest implications for the rest of your trip. Anticipating the upcoming changes and taking precautions to limit their impact on your sleep schedule, is essential to having fun travels. You will notice your mood, attitude and health improve by following these simple tips.