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How to Survive Jet Lag

Updated: Jun 4

An airplane taking off

Jet lag - every traveler's inevitable nemesis. The modern convenience of crossing multiple time zones in a matter of hours brings with it this unwelcome companion. But fear not, because understanding and managing jet lag can make it a minor inconvenience rather than a trip-ruining ordeal. Here's our definitive guide on how to survive jet lag:

Understanding Jet Lag

But first, what exactly is jet lag? Jet lag occurs when your body's internal clock, or circadian rhythm, is out of sync with the new time zone. This biological clock regulates a variety of bodily functions such as sleep, hunger, and metabolism. When this rhythm is disrupted due to rapid long-distance trans-meridian travel, the result is jet lag.

Symptoms of jet lag can include insomnia, fatigue, loss of appetite, and even mild depression. It can take several days for your body to adjust, depending on the number of time zones crossed.


Top Tips to Survive Jet Lag

Now that we know what we're up against, let's explore the ways to minimize jet lag's impact and recover quickly.

1. Pre-Trip Adjustment

Begin shifting your schedule before you travel. Gradually adjust your sleeping and eating schedule to match the time zone of your destination. This gives your body a head start and reduces the shock of a sudden shift.

2. Stay Hydrated

Airplanes are notoriously dry environments, which can exacerbate the symptoms of jet lag. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your flight to avoid dehydration. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they can interfere with sleep and cause dehydration.

3. Get Moving

Physical activity can help reset your biological clock. Once you arrive, try to get some exercise. A brisk walk or a light workout can do wonders for your energy levels and help you adjust to the new time zone.

4. Embrace the Light

Exposure to sunlight helps regulate your internal body clock. If you’re traveling east, get morning light and avoid afternoon light to help you adjust to an earlier time zone. If you're traveling west, do the opposite.

5. Opt for Overnight Flights

You'll have dinner at a normal time and be much more likely to sleep than on an afternoon flight. Depending on the length of the flight and the number of time zones you cross, you'll arrive at your destination in the morning or afternoon. This is the closest to a regular sleep pattern and can help reduce jet lag.

6. Break Up the Trip

If you're traveling across numerous time zones, consider an overnight stopover. This gives your body more time to adjust and can split the journey into manageable parts.

7. Consider Medication or Supplements

Some travelers find that taking melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles, can help manage jet lag. It’s available over-the-counter in many countries, but you should always consult with a healthcare professional before taking any new supplement.

Remember, everyone's body responds differently to changes in circadian rhythms, and what works best for you might differ from what works for others. Experiment with different strategies and find a routine that leaves you refreshed and ready to enjoy your trip.

Traveling allows us to explore new cultures, cuisines, and landscapes, and while jet lag may be part of this adventure, it doesn't have to define it. With these tips, you'll be well-equipped to minimize the effects of jet lag and maximize your time exploring your new surroundings!

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