Jet lag is what happens when your body struggles to adjust after flying across time zones. Unavoidable, right? Not exactly.
You can take steps before, during, and after your flight to minimize disruptions to your sleep cycle, mood and well-being. Managing your sleep as you move through time zones can help make travel more enjoyable and productive.
Send jet lag packing
Here are eight strategies for minimising the effects of jet lag. Make sure to pack them with your carry-on for your next flight.
1. Plan ahead.
Begin adjusting your sleep-wake schedule several days before your travel date. The goal is to incrementally shift your schedule closer to the time of your destination. If you’re traveling eastward, you’ll want to wake earlier and go to sleep earlier, a little more so each night. For traveling west, you’ll do the reverse, and move your bedtimes and wake times slightly later each night.
2. Choose a sleep-friendly flight time.
You can minimize the time-zone crossing disruption to your sleep cycles if you travel at certain times. Generally, the best time to arrive at your destination is in the early evening. Once you’ve arrived, resist the temptation to go to sleep too early, or to stay up too late. Plan to go to bed at 10 p.m. local time.
3. Nap accordingly.
Try to take a short nap on a short flight and a longer nap on a longer flight, suggests Dr. Michael J. Breus, Ph.D. in Good Night: The Sleep Doctor’s 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health.
4. Time your naps.
Naps that last too long will lead you into deep sleep, which could leave you feeling groggy when you wake. A nap that lasts more than 60 minutes can pull you into deep sleep.
5. Stay hydrated.
Drink plenty of liquids, preferably water, during your flight to avoid dehydration.
6. Stay away from excessive caffeine, alcohol and tobacco on the flight and during your stay.
7. Spend as much time as possible outside at your destination.
Exposure to daylight can help reset your internal clock, bringing it more in line with your destination time.
8. Time your light exposure.
If you’ve traveled eastward, seek bright light in the morning. If you’ve traveled westward, seek bright light in the afternoon.