Most travelers try to make the most of their limited time when on vacation, yet fail to take into account the leap in time zones they make in a matter of hours. It can take your body’s internal clock several days to catch up to that leap, and in the meantime, you’re likely to experience the disruption of your sleeping and waking cycle known as jet lag. Symptoms of jet lag include sleepiness during the day, insomnia at night, poor concentration, confusion, hunger at inappropriate times or lack of appetite, and general malaise and irritability. Here are some tips on how to avoid jet lag:
Adjust Your Internal Clock
Several days (at least four) before departure, gradually shift your sleeping and eating times to coincide with those at your destination. Once you arrive, adopt the local time for your daily routine.
Opt for Overnight Flights
You’ll have dinner at a normal time and be much more likely to sleep than on an afternoon flight. Depending on the length of the flight and the number of time zones you cross, you’ll arrive at your destination in the morning or afternoon. This is the best way to replicate your normal schedule, and it’ll be easier for you to reset your clock.
Limit Your Caffeine Intake
For 12 hours before, as well as during, your flight, avoid overeating and caffeine. Although caffeine can help keep you awake longer, it makes you wake up more often once you do fall asleep and so reduces total sleep time.
Drink at least 8 ounces of water for every hour you’re in the air—even if you don’t feel thirsty. If you wear contact lenses, clean them thoroughly before your flight, use eye drops in the air, and consider removing your lenses if you nap. In your carry-on pack a bottle of moisturizing lotion, lip balm, and a hydrating spray with essential oils (not just water) to spritz your face with occasionally. Just be sure all toiletries are TSA compliant.
Avoid or Limit Alcohol Inflight
Cabin air dehydrates passengers, and altitude changes can quicken the effects of alcohol. A cocktail may relax you, but it’s also apt to dry you out, and even worsen symptoms of jet lag.
Try to Sleep on the Plane
This is especially important when you’re traveling overnight. Travel is extremely tiring, and the more rest your body gets en route, the more prepared you’ll be to deal with the stresses of jet lag. If you’re taking a very long flight, consider saving up enough dollars or frequent-flier miles to fly business or first class, as it’s a lot easier to sleep when your seat reclines all the way back. If you can’t avoid coach, opt for a window seat and bring enough padding to prop yourself up against the wall.
Consider taking the nonprescription drug melatonin. Research suggests that the body uses this hormone to set its time clock. Because melatonin seems to control when we go to sleep and when we wake up, a number of scientists advocate supplements to alleviate jet lag.
Spend Time Outside
After arrival, spend a lot of time out in the sunlight, which will help your body reset its natural time clock to coincide with your new surroundings.
Don’t Fall Asleep Too Early
Unless you arrive at your destination at night, and reasonably close to a normal bedtime, don’t go to sleep as soon as you reach your hotel. Unless you’re used to taking regular short naps at home, you’re better off staying up until bedtime.
How to Avoid Jet Lag with Professional Treatment
Dr. Shukla of Brooklyn New York has been in practice for more than 15 years. He has provided the answers and treatments to many children suffering from asthma, allergies, sleep apnea. Here at the Asthma, Allergy and Sleep Center of New York, we provide you with a personalized, boutique approach to health care and pediatric pulmonology all under one roof. We emphasize prevention and use our advanced diagnostic technologies to give you and your child the best possible care. Whether you need to see a sleep doctor, need allergy treatment or have questions about common causes for chronic coughs, contact Dr. Shukla’s New York offices today for an appointment.