Whether you’re jet-setting on a vacation or traveling for work, jet lag can throw a serious wrench in your plans. While you might not be able to avoid jet lag in full, there are ways to reduce its impact and get your body back on track as soon as possible. Here’s what you need to know before you go.
Set Your Body’s Clock Ahead of Time
When you’re jet lagged, your body struggles to adjust to a new time zone. But, you can acclimate your circadian rhythm before you even leave. A few days before your trip, start gradually adjusting your sleep schedule in the direction of your new time zone by about 15 minutes a day. Even small, incremental adjustments can help you get more used to the new time zone.
Hydrate (and Cut the Alcohol)
According to the Mayo Clinic, dehydration can actually make jet lag symptoms worse, and plane cabins are notorious for their dry air. If you’re flying, start hydrating before you board, keep drinking water throughout your flight, and supplement with some electrolytes for an extra boost.
On the flip side, you’ll want to avoid drinks that dehydrate you, including alcohol and caffeine. Skip the pre-plane cocktails, in-flight drinks, and extra coffee (even if they're complimentary).
Be Mindful of Light Exposure
For flights where you’re traveling to a drastically different time zone, your body might mistake the morning light for evening, or vice versa. So, adapting your circadian rhythm to the new sunlight patterns is essential. If you’re changing your time zone drastically to the east, for example, the Mayo Clinic recommends that you wear sunglasses and avoid bright light in the morning, then expose yourself to afternoon sunlight.
Schedule Adjustment Time in Your Trip
If you’re traveling across several time zones and know that you might be jet lagged, set aside a day to decompress and adjust. Don’t book important meetings or big events on the day you arrive if you can avoid it. Or, when you get back, take a day off to rest and recoup. It might feel like a waste of a day, but your body will thank you when the important to-dos on your trip roll around.
Regulate with Melatonin
Quick science lesson: Jet lag occurs in part due to your brain’s pineal gland not knowing when to correctly secrete melatonin. If you find yourself unable to sleep due to a time zone jump ahead, melatonin supplements like TB12 Sleep can help you re-regulate your melatonin cycle.
The Bottom Line
Jet lag is a pain — but it doesn’t have to ruin your trip. Be mindful of how you prep for jet lag before, during, and after you travel, and you can reduce its impacts on your body.