The exhilaration of an upcoming trip can subdue the effects of jet lag. Once back home, though, prepare for the worst. For every time zone crossed, the symptoms of jet lag worsen:
- Disturbed sleep,
- Daytime fatigue,
- Lack of concentration,
- And upset stomach.
Jet lag is a temporary sleep disorder caused by an interrupted circadian rhythm—our internal sleep clock. Our circadian rhythms rely on light exposure, meal times and other daytime cues to determine when we should sleep. Per time zone, it takes one day for our circadian rhythms to adjust.
Interestingly, if you travel west, your recovery period shortens 30% to 50%. Likewise, kids experience jet lag more quickly and recover at the same rate. To help adults adapt to changing time zones in much the same way, here are a few tips on coping with jet lag.
Change Your Sleeping Habits
Rather than resuming your regular schedule, tweak your bedtime to resemble your vacation sleeping habits. If you cross two time zones, then roll the clocks back or forth accordingly. During your first week home, slowly transition to your old ways.
Drink Lots of Water
Dehydration can exacerbate the effects of jet lag. Not drinking enough on the return drive or flight can add to your grogginess and nausea. Similarly, avoid alcohol and caffeine as both negatively affect sleep.
Our bodies naturally secrete melatonin to regulate our sleep cycles. Some anecdotal and pre-clinical trials suggest that increasing this hormone can beat jet lag. The best time to take melatonin supplements is after dark on your first travel day. Doing so mitigates jet lag during and after your trip.
Get Some Sunshine
The type of light we receive affects our circadian rhythms. Light exposure changes morning to night, so strategize when to bask in the sun before and after your trip. Increasing your sunlight intake can re-regulate your circadian rhythm.