Coping with Jetlag

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Coping with Jetlag

If you’re a frequent traveler, you know what it’s like to jump from time zone to time zone and wind up with the inevitable jet lag. As irritating as this problem is, there are things you can do to reset your body clock and help you get back on track even sooner.

What Is Jet Lag?

We all have an internal clock that tells us when to rise and sleep every day. This clock is a collection of cells that are made up by genes called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). These cells tell the rest of the body what to do and can even affect our mood, hunger and blood pressure. Jet lag occurs when that body clock is disrupted when transitioning through time zones, disrupting our circadian rhythm, and can often take a few days to rectify. There are really only two ways to speed up your jet lag recovery, and those are, adjust faster after the fact, or begin adjusting to your new time zone beforehand. Here are some of the best ways that you can assist your body in adjusting to a new time zone as quickly as possible.

  • Mimic Your New Schedule Before You Leave – Adjust your clocks, sleep schedules and routines to match the timezone in your new destination a few days prior to your departure. If you’re traveling eastward, slowly start moving your bedtime earlier in 30-60 minute intervals each night until you’ve reached your destination timezone. If you’re traveling west, do the opposite.
  • Eat A Clean, Balanced Diet – Eating a diet complete with the right proteins, veggies, fats and carbohydrates will keep your brain performing at its peak level, helping reduce your adjustment period that much more. A healthy diet will optimize your brain power and make traveling a breeze.
  • Reduce Your Stress – When you stress, your cortisol is elevated and you can suffer from symptoms of adrenal fatigue, which can worsen jet lag. Be sure to keep your stress level as low as possible and practice deep breathing and meditation to help you through. For more information on adrenal fatigue, visit my blog
  • Take Melatonin – Melatonin is naturally created in our bodies to help regulate our circadian rhythm. Supplementing with Melatonin gives our bodies an extra push to keep that rhythm regulated and reduces jet lag symptoms.
  • Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine – Alcohol and Caffeine can dehydrate you and work against your body’s natural sleep cycle. Avoid alcohol and caffeine near bedtime hours until your body has adjusted to it’s new timezone.
  • Manipulate your Light – One of the most effective ways to combat jet lag is to manipulate light so you purposely enjoy and avoid sunlight at different times of the day. For example, if you are traveling east, enjoy the morning sun and avoid evening light. If you are traveling west, do the opposite and avoid morning light. If this sounds complicated, Entrain is an app developed by the University of Michigan to help track your light exposure.
  • Stay Hydrated – Make sure to drink plenty of water before, during and after your travel days to help flush out toxins and keep you hydrated. This will help you regulate your sleep cycle and keep your brain functioning at it’s max performance.
  • Arrive Early – Arriving a few days early will give you time to adjust to your new time zone before important meetings or social outings.
  • Avoid Electronics – If you plan to nap on the plane, avoid electronics like your iphone or watching the in flight movie. Electronics disrupt your sleep cycle and can make it more difficult to adjust to your new time zone. Instead, opt for a book or a crossword puzzle.

Jet lag isn’t desirable, but these tips will help you get back in sync with your body clock as quickly as possible, helping you stay on point for your important meetings and busy schedule. For more travel tips, visit my blog here.

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