You’ve arrived in Paris, but instead of scaling the Eiffel Tower, you’re passing out in your soufflé. Jet lag occurs when your body’s circadian cycle — its expected sleep and wake periods — is out of sync with your new location, resulting in brain fog at midday or insomnia in the early hours. Of course, not everyone has the same body clock, and no two travels are the same, but there are several tactics that could help you get your zip back faster.
Before you leave, make a shift
Jet lag is caused by both the time difference and the direction of travel, according to Jay Olson, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Toronto Mississauga who has studied the subject. According to Dr. Olson, going westward is simpler for most individuals than traveling eastward, when you are expected to stay up later and wake up later to fit the new time zone.
According to Dr. Vishesh Kapur, founder of the University of Washington Sleep Medicine Center, for shorter travels, make a progressive one-hour adjustment per day for the amount of time zones you’ll cross.
For example, if you’re travelling from California to Massachusetts, you should try going to bed and waking up an hour earlier each day for three days before the trip. He believes that shifting your bedtime before going fewer than three time zones west is usually unnecessary. Additionally, you can also read about- Top 5 Tips for Booking Spontaneous Travel During the Holidays
Utilize the power of light
Bright light assists in keeping our internal clock in sync with the outside world by passing through specialized cells in the retina and signaling the part of the brain that controls the body’s master schedule. Dr. Olson advises long-distance travelers to seek out or avoid bright light at specified times. Begin shifting the light and dark periods of your origin toward those of your destination a few days before your journey, using dark glasses, sunlight, or other light sources.
Figuring out the optimal times to get light can be difficult in the first few days of your vacation. Assume you fly from New York to London overnight and arrive at 7 a.m. Your brain may still feel like it’s 2 a.m., and being exposed to bright light immediately may confound your internal clock. In this situation, you may choose to put on dark glasses for a few hours before going out in the light when it is closer to your waking time at home, thus extending your London day.
On long flights to Asia, when day and night are reversed, it is frequently simpler to move your cycle backward, according to Mickey Beyer-Clausen, CEO of Timeshifter, which offers the Timeshifter jet lag software. For example, when travelling nonstop from New York to Tokyo, which is 13 hours ahead, consider yourself to be 11 hours behind (jet lag does not take the international date line into account). That instance, if you arrive in Japan at 2 p.m. — 1 a.m. in New York — you must compensate for the fact that your New York brain is shutting down for sleep. In Japan, this implies looking for bright light all afternoon, especially in the evening, till night. You can also get a head start on adjusting to Japanese time by going to bed and seeking the light two nights before you leave New York.
A personalized plan can be created using online programs like Timeshifter and Jet Lag Rooster based on characteristics like time zone differences, departure and arrival timings, and other factors.
Think about melatonin
Dr. Kapur advises taking one milligram of over-the-counter melatonin up to three days before your vacation if you’re having problems falling asleep early in preparation of heading to the east. Melatonin is a chemical that the body naturally produces as night falls to indicate that it is time to sleep. According to Dr. Olson, research show that a bigger amount doesn’t always work better and is more likely to have adverse effects. For treating jet lag, he advised using this little dose. Travelers should be aware that the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate melatonin as a dietary supplement.
Take a brief nap
As your body adjusts to the new time zone, Dr. Kapur advised curling up for a 20-minute nap if you’re feeling exhausted. He warns that if you nap longer than that, your brain fog can get worse or you might have difficulties going to sleep at night.
Take a shower during your layover
A little spritz at the airport in between long journeys can do wonders for tired muscles. Tokyo Narita International Airport, Munich Airport, and San Francisco International Airport all have public pay showers. Showers are only available in certain airport lounges, such as the Delta Sky Club at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. If you are not a member, do not have access through credit card, and are in desperate need of a boost, consider purchasing a day ticket. For example, the IGA Lounge at Istanbul International Airport costs $65. Towels, soap, and shampoo are all provided.
Take advantage of the lag
Plan ahead if you intend to be up late or early as your body adjusts. Early in the trip, you may have the greatest energy for a visit to Bangkok’s Patpong Night Market, Tokyo’s early-morning tuna auction, or a predawn expedition to view the sunrise at Haleakala volcano in Maui.