Jet lag can make an exciting vacation exhausting and challenge even the most seasoned business traveller.
But what exactly is jet lag? And how do you beat it?
Jet Lag 101
- Jet lag is what happens when you travel across several different time zones and there's a mismatch between your body's internal clock and the local time of the place in which you've just arrived.
- Direction matters:
- Going eastbound is said to cause more jet lag than crossing the same number of time zones to the west
- You don't get jet lag when going north or south, since that doesn't mean a change in time zones
- Symptoms of jet lag:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Nighttime wakefulness
- Tummy troubles
Tips to beat jet lag
Before you go:
- Adjust your sleep routine: If you're flying east, start going to bed and waking up earlier for a few days before leaving to advance your body clock – do the reverse if you are heading west
- Top up on sleep: The last thing you need is a sleep-deficit when facing down the possibility of jet lag
- Plan a stopover: Combine a nice inter-terminal leg stretch with the chance for your body's clock to catch up to whatever midway time zone you happen to be in
- Hydrate. Drink plenty of liquids, but avoid beverages with caffeine or alcohol since they're dehydrating and can also disturb sleep
- Set your clock to the time zone you'll be landing in. If it's daytime there, try to stay awake during the flight. Otherwise...
- Sleep. Earplugs and eye masks can help
At your destination:
- Use light therapy: Sunlight can help reset your internal clock
- Get plenty of it, but time it depending on whether you've gone east or west
- If you went east, soak up the early rays and keep your sunglasses handy in the afternoon
- If you went west, get that light later in the day, shading your eyes in the early morning
- The math can get tricky, so take advantage of online jet-lag calculators to help with this
- Eat wisely: Carbs make you sleepy and protein stimulates alertness, so let food help regulate your sleep and be sure to eat lightly the day before any flights
- If you take regular medication at timed intervals, investigating whether that could be affected by the time difference might be a good idea