October 25, 2017
Five Useful Tips to Beat Jet Lag
Jet lag, medically known as Desynchronosis, is a physiological condition caused by changes in ones circadian rhythms. These changes come from high-speed air travel moving from east to west, or vice versa, placing individuals in unfamiliar time zones. Here are a few useful ways to beat and deal with jet lag.
Make sure your flight matches your sleep schedule
Get an overnight flight! Let’s say you’re traveling from Boston to Paris at 11pm. Assuming your circadian sleep cycle starts around 11pm, flying to Paris will be much easier for you because it will allow you to sleep for most of your flight and wake up energized and ready to go. This is crucial because when you arrive in Europe it will be early in the morning. However, if you take an eastbound flight to Paris at, lets say 4pm, you are less likely to sleep during the flight. When you land, your body will think it’s bedtime and you will have to deal with sleep depravity and jet lag for a full day, which is no fun.
Adjust your sleep cycle before traveling
Sleeping a little bit earlier everyday may help you deal with jet lag. For example, if you start sleeping 30 minutes early everyday before a flight eastbound to Paris, and eventually manage to sleep two hours earlier than your standard bedtime before flying, it will be easier to adjust to a European time zone. You’ll have a two hour advantage in coping with the time change and jet lag when you arrive in Paris.
It’s very important to stay hydrated before, during, and after a long distance flight. Travel fatigue is a major part of jet lag, but is not involved with changes in circadian rhythms. Lack of hydration can cause fatigue and headaches. Drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol consumption when you’re flying. Dry air, low oxygen, and cabin pressure all effect your body’s hydration in the cabin.
Stay awake when your arrive at your destination
This is one of the hardest parts. It is crucial that you stay awake at your new destination until the local bedtime. If you do not stay awake, you will be back at your original circadian bedtime. Some tips on staying awake in a new time zone:
- Take a quick power nap (no more than 60-90 minutes). This will give you a boost of energy and help you stay awake the rest of the day. Make sure it’s no more than 90 minutes. Set an alarm to make sure you don’t go into deep sleep.
- Take a shower upon arrival. This helps you wake up and feel rejuvenated. Airline lounges often have fantastic lounges.
- Drink caffeinated beverages (i.e. coffee or tea) and eat dark chocolate.
Stay active and busy
Staying active and busy upon arrival in a new time zone will help a lot. Keeping your blood moving and your mind busy will help you stay awake and make the time go faster. Usually this won’t be a problem when visiting a new city you’ve never been to, because there are lots of things to see and discover!