Avoid Jet Lag, Naturally

Whether you are traveling for work or play, jet lag can really put a damper on your trip. Nobody wants to waste precious time on vacation waiting to adjust to new time zones. You want to feel your best so you can make the most of every moment! And if you travel often for work, you know very well how daytime sleepiness and fatigue can throw you off your game. Here are a few tips to help ward off jet lag on your next trip:

Before you leave

  • This may seem simple, but make sure to leave well rested. Often, pre-trip planning and packing leads to reduced sleep prior to a trip. Try to plan ahead and pack early, so that for the night or two before the trip, you can make sure to get a good night of sleep.
  • Eastbound flights tend to cause more jet lag than westbound flights. If you are travelling east, consider waking up earlier than usual and turning all the lights on, for a few nights prior to the flight. Also, go to bed earlier than usual, in complete darkness. This can help to start re-setting your internal clock before you leave.

During the flight

  • Stay well hydrated! Dehydration can really compound the effects of jet lag by increasing overall fatigue. Make sure to drink plenty of water during your journey and avoid dehydrating beverages like alcohol and coffee. Bring an empty re-usable water bottle with you. Most airports now have stations for filling water bottles.
  • During the flight, focus on where you are going, not where you just left. Reset your watch at the onset of the journey to the time zone of your destination to put yourself in the right mindset.
  • If you are taking a red eye, make sure to maximize the chance of getting good sleep. Bring your own eye mask, earplugs and neck pillow. 

When you arrive

  • Upon arrival at your destination, make sure to go to sleep at the local bedtime. If you must take a nap, make sure you keep it short; no more than 20 minutes, so as not to interfere with nighttime sleep.
  • Lastly, research shows that taking melatonin can help to reduce daytime sleepiness and fatigue at your destination. Melatonin is one of the hormones that the body uses to regulate its circadian rhythm. Take melatonin at the local bedtime of your destination for 2-5 nights after your arrival, to help re-set your sleep cycle.

Happy travels!

-Dr. Khaira