Beating jet lag

Man sleeping on plane.

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Summer travel plans may take you to places across the globe. While this can be exciting, switching to a different time zone can take a toll on the body.


The body has its own internal clock that tells you when to be awake and when to sleep. This is your circadian rhythm.


If you travel to a different time zone, the clock gets disrupted:

You may be awake when it’s nighttime or want to sleep during the day. This can make you exhausted. Jet lag can also cause:

•  Headaches

•  Feeling irritable

•  Trouble concentrating

•  Loss of appetite

•  Upset stomach

•  Diarrhea


There are some ways to fight jet lag so you can enjoy your trip:

•  Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your arrival.

•  Avoid alcohol. Some people think a nightcap will help them sleep. But alcohol actually disrupts sleep and makes you more tired.

•  Use your travel time wisely. If you’ll be on a plane during the “new” night time, try to rest. Use a sleep mask and ear plugs. Avoid staring at TV screens or other devices.

•  Be careful with caffeine. If you must have caffeine, drink it in the new time zone’s morning hours. Avoid it after lunch.

•  Get out in the sun. When you get to your destination, go outside if it’s daytime. This will help to tell your body when to be awake.

•  Skip naps if possible. Napping could make it harder for you to fall asleep at the correct time. If you take a nap at 6 p.m., you could be awake most of the night.

•  Consider melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that your body makes to tell you that it’s time for sleep. Taking melatonin at your new bedtime can help you sleep better. It is available over-the-counter, but ask your doctor before trying it.


Source: National Sleep Foundation

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