The last time you traveled across more than one time zone, you may have experienced jet lag. What is jetlag? By crossing multiple times zones, your circadian rhythm — or internal body clock — is disrupted, telling the body to sleep during the day and stay awake at night.
Dealing with jet lag can be tough as it leads to fatigue and sleeplessness, and recovery typically depends on how many time zones were crossed. The body bounces back at a rate of about two times zones a day. So if you crossed four time zones, it will take two days, on average, to recover.
Here are some things that you can try to minimize the effects of jet lag:
- Stay healthy – A nutritious diet, consistent exercise and regular sleep schedule will help your body adjust more quickly.
- Adjust before you leave – Ease yourself into the new time zone several days or weeks before you leave and return. Keep setting your clock back (or forward) one hour a day.
- Keep comfortable – Move around on the plane every hour or so. Wear comfortable clothes that don’t pinch or restrict and be sure to dress warmly enough — you can always remove a layer.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine – Alcohol can disrupt sleep patterns and dehydrate you, while caffeine will keep you stimulated and affect your sleeping schedule.
- Plan a stopover — If possible, try to stay over during a long trip in a city half way to your destination to begin the acclimation process.
- Adapt to your new surroundings — Take on the schedule of your destination immediately. If you arrive at 6:00 pm, be sure to eat dinner — not breakfast — to signal the new time to your body.
- Get sunlight — Being out in the sun helps regulate the hormone that lets the body know when it is — and isn’t — time to sleep.
- Take sleep medication as needed — If you are still having trouble sleeping, consider an over-the-counter sleep aid like SIMPLY SLEEP® to help ease you to sleep. If you have pain with sleeplessness, try TYLENOL® PM as directed. Talk to your doctor if you have questions.