The trick to beating jet lag can sometimes feel like an intricate art—rather than a science. If you’re constantly traveling, it’s important that you arrive at your destination ready to go, without the complication of time zone changes. Here are a few things you should know about jet lag, so that going from point A to point B is easier than ever.
The Tiresome Problem
Jet lag is the result of upsetting your body’s normal circadian rhythm. Much like what happens when you get too much sleep, your body’s clock is disrupted and the effects can range from mild fatigue to stomach problems. Jet lag occurs whenever you cross two or more time zones. So, cross country business trips and international travel for fun would both end up impacting your mood, sleep and energy.
Sure, time zones are the big thing, but on a granular level, what is it that this type of travel does to interrupt your circadian rhythm? Sunlight is one of the biggest factors. Your body’s observance of light often triggers your internal clock, waking you from sleep or informing you that a lack of light means it is time for bed.
The physical act of flying can also exacerbate feelings of jet lag. The exhaustion that you feel as you de-board the plane isn’t just in your head. According to Mayo Clinic, cabin pressure, high altitudes and low humidity levels can all leave you feeling the sense of exhaustion that’s often associated with jet lag.
The Eye-Opening Solution
In order to quickly adjust your body’s clock, try to maintain the hours of the city you’re visiting. Even if it requires staying up past normal bedtimes or waking at a frightening early hour, this will help your body more quickly adapt.
Keep track of the food and drink you’re consuming throughout the day. If you think you’ll have trouble falling asleep early, avoid items with caffeine that may combat natural sleepiness. Things like alcohol, chocolate and soda can be detrimental to your sleep. If you have trouble waking, however, use caffeine and a stimulating breakfast to your advantage. Having a pot of coffee ready to brew will make it a lot easier to wake up.
If you’d like to get a bit more high-tech, you can partake in light therapy. By using an artificial light (often in the form of a lamp or box) you can simulate natural lighting conditions of the time zone you’re in. This method is most helpful if you do not have a lot of interaction with natural lighting (aka when you’re stuck in a business meeting all day).
Lastly, use essential oils to your advantage while traveling. Scents like peppermint can act as a great pick me up when you’re feeling tired and lavender can help ease anxiety and insomnia. Place a few drops on your pillow and you will be sleeping easy.
Author: Allison Klibanoff