If you’re going to be traveling and crossing time-zones, you may be very excited at visiting a new place, eating great food, making memories..,
But there’s something unexpected that might sneak up and make a mess of your travel dreams: Jet Lag.
What is Jet Lag?
Jet lag is a temporary condition that travelers who go cross-country or overseas experience. The transition and change in time zones disrupts our body’s natural circadian rhythm and can cause a lot of discomfort.
Basically, you’re still operating on your home time zone, and it makes you extra tired or extra alert when you’re not supposed to be. It’s being sleepy at all the wrong times. Not only does jet lag ruin your sleep, but it will make you feel exhausted and fatigued during your travel time.
It can take a few days for our bodies to recover from jet lag.
How can we fight against jet lag and not let it get the best of us and our travels? Here are 5 proven ways to beat jet lag.
1. Use melatonin.
What is melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that’s produced by a small gland in your brain called the pineal gland. It’s secreted by the gland during nighttime but only works when there is no light (it stops secreting when there is light). It’s linked to our circadian rhythms that determine our sleeping cycle.
A 2002 article reviewed 10 studies of melatonin as a treatment for jet lag. In 9 out of 10 of the studies the researchers reviewed, melatonin was found to decrease jet lag in people crossing five or more time zones. This decrease in jet lag was seen when melatonin was taken close to the local bedtime at the destination.Healthline
When taken before bed time, it will help your body to readjust to the new time zone by secreting melatonin at the proper time.
2. Tune out sensory distractions.
This includes TV, phone, laptop, etc. You’re in a new place! You’re not traveling across the world to look at the same screen that you are glued to at home or at work. Put down the electronic devices and tune out unnecessary sensory distractions close to sleep time. Your body and your travel partners will thank you.
3. Skip the coffee. Drink water instead.
Stay hydrated. And no, coffee is not hydration. Coffee acts to make you more dehydrated although it could be difficult to feel that way if you are drinking a lot of coffee whenever you get thirsty or tired.
Not only will coffee have caffeine that will give you a boost of energy but lead to a crash later on, it can leave you too wired to fall asleep at nighttime. This, plus the dehydration that coffee can bring, leads to a negative state where your body is functioning poorly and extremely fatigued.
This will exacerbate the effects of jet lag. Make sure to carry a reusable water bottle with you and if you are a coffee addict, try diluting your caffeine by increasing the milk (or milk alternative) level in your drinks and avoiding black coffee, cold brews, etc.
4. Don’t drink alcohol.
Wait, doesn’t alcohol help you to sleep? Shouldn’t I be drinking more if I want to sleep better during my travel? Who tells a traveler not to drink sake?!
Hear me out. Alcohol can be a pleasant and fun part of the travel experience (with appropriate self-control and precautionary safety measures taken while drinking in a foreign country). But for fighting jet lag — it won’t help. It will harm instead.
Take it easy on your body the first couple nights of travel, and opt to stay in until your body has adjusted well to the new time zone. You will thank us later as you’re able to enjoy much more of your trip compared to the short fun of a night out (too early on).