Cross the Time Zone Barrier

When traveling to a different time zone, your phone and computer automatically reset to local time. However, your body’s athletic potential needs help from these tips.

Research shows that athletic performance suffers when you go through two or more time zones—especially from east to west. But these seven smart tips can help prevent a time change from stealing your fitness.

Move to mini-meals. Before you leave on your trip, switch to smaller meals and eat at the mealtimes of your destination. 

Tweak your sleep. Shift your bedtime forward or back by an hour each night for every time zone you’re crossing. Allow a few days to adjust until you’re hitting the hay at the time you’d go to sleep at your destination.

Create a buffer zone. If you’re traveling across a couple of time zones to participate in an event such as marathon or triathlon, arrive a day or two early, if at all possible. A good rule of thumb: It takes one day per time zone to recover from travel. 

Reschedule that red-eye, if possible. While late-night flights might seem like a chance to sleep, chances are you’ll stay up later and won’t sleep well on the flight. If you’re flying east, it’s best to take a flight that lands midday at your destination, and for westbound travel, land in the morning to get your body clock on the right track. 

Adjust lighting. When traveling west, it helps your body reset itself if you turn lights on in the early evening, then dim them at night, and avoid light in the early morning. When heading east, increase your exposure to light in the night and morning.

Drink strategically. During your trip, make sure to drink enough water to avoid dehydration and resulting fatigue. Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can affect sleep patterns. 

Moderate your plate. Spicy and high-protein foods can be stimulating and keep you awake. Adjust your diet by eating more carbohydrates, such as a bowl of pasta or a turkey sandwich.

 

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From the publishers of Men’s Health