The Smart Traveler: Tips for How to Handle Jet Lag
How your body handles jet lag can make the difference between planning your next overseas adventure, or deciding to either travel in the US or not not travel at all. There are however, some very tried and true tricks for beating jet lag, especially on long overseas flights. It took decades of travel to learn them, and it was trial and error, but this author finally learned how to overcome a 17 hour time difference literally overnight. It may not work for everyone, but here are three major things to consider.
If you are flying into darkness sleep, if you are flying into light stay awake
This is huge, since it helps you reset your body clock. You need to take in more light travelling in one direction, and less light traveling in the other to help reset your circadian rhythm.This is also known as your body clock. It is well known that travelling west is easier than traveling east when it comes to jet lag. That is because when traveling west, you are more able to take in the correct amount of light, It is not about getting more or less sleep to be in the correct time zone when you arrive. It is about getting the proper amount of light and dark. So staying awake or getting more sleep before the trip wont necessarily help you The easiest thing to do is take note of what time your plane is departing and landing at your destination. If it leaves at midnight and it is mostly dark the entire trip, make sure to get plenty of sleep.You will actually arrive refreshed. If you are leaving during the day, and know you will be arriving during the night 11 or 12 hours later, then make every effort to stay awake. You can always sleep when you get there since it will be nearly bedtime when you arrive. Let your body have the appropriate amount of light and dark. If you are leaving at night and arriving during the day, then get some sleep (flying into dark), but make sure you don’t sleep the entire way. You need to balance that with the appropriate amounts of light (flying into light).
Eat protein to stay awake
Eating the right food is key to staying awake long enough to get a good nights sleep the day you arrive at your destination. Stay away from sweets and caffeine. Those might keep you going for a while, but you will shortly notice you are getting tired again. The key to staying awake is protein. Massive amounts of protein. The kind you might find on a bacon/egg/cheese burger. In fact, if you have one of these at about 3 in the afternoon (or a protein equivalent), you might just find it enables you to stay awake till later in the evening when you can go to bed at a normal hour and wake up refreshed.
Take a supplement to help you sleep
Melatonin is key here, not sleeping pills. Melatonin was devised for business travelers to help conquer jet lag. Sleeping pills were designed to help you sleep. There is a big difference. Melatonin allows you to sleep because it works with your brain’s pituitary gland and makes you sleepy during daylight hours. This enables you to take in the dark and sleep as you fly into the daylight, thus helping restore your body’s circadian rhythm. It is helpful to take a melatonin when you are trying to sleep on an overnight flight, but you might notice it makes you tired as you are flying into the light you need. It is also helpful to take one before going to bed the night you arrive. Just have an alarm clock set tor when you want to wake up, since the light will make you drowsy.