When it comes to vacations or business trips that take place several time zones away, jet lag is one of the biggest drags for travelers. The sluggish feeling occurs when your internal body clock is thrown off, and can be made worse by other factors including sunlight exposure, cabin pressure on the airplane, and dehydration. Monica Otero Woodward, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center of SW Florida (sleepcenternaples.com), shares three tips to beat jet lag on your next trip.
Create A Sleep Schedule
Make sure you are rested before your trip and gradually adjust your schedule before you leave. Woodward also suggests staying awake when you reach your destination instead of taking a nap, to make it easier for your body to adjust to your new schedule. “Jet lag usually hits people who fly east the hardest, since most of those flights fly at nighttime,” she says. “If you’re going on an eight to 10-hour flight from Florida to Europe that leaves at 10 p.m., you’ll arrive mid-morning. You need to sleep on the plane and stay awake until at least 7 p.m. or so, or else it’ll be a huge struggle to get on the new schedule.
Follow The Light
Sunlight helps regulate your internal body clock, so pay attention to light exposure. Generally, body clocks can shift comfortably by an hour a day, so keep your destination’s time zone in mind when planning your next trip. “In general, bright light in the evening will push your clock forward so that you go to bed later and get up later, ideal for westward flights,” says Woodward. “Likewise, bright light in the morning will push your clock backward so that you go to bed earlier and get up earlier, which is what you’ll want if you’re heading eastward.”
Tight, cramped muscles can be synonymous with flying, but with some quick and easy exercises, you can remedy the problem. Woodward recommends standing and walking as often as possible to move your muscles, or, at the very least, taking a walk the length of the plane every two to four hours to prevent the potential for blood clots. Simple, static exercises can also be done while seated, such as neck and shoulder rolls, leg stretches beneath the seat in front of you, and heel and toe lifts. “Place your feet shoulder-width apart and alternate lifting your heels and the balls of your feet,” Woodward says.