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How to combat jet lag

10-04-2014

How to combat jet lag

If you travel for work then you need to be at your best when you arrive, though as anyone who travels for work knows, often jet lag means that you are often feel terrible. Jet lag is the outcome of travelling across time zones, of throwing your body clock out of sync. For most of human history it was impossible to become jet lagged as we were not able to move around the world fast enough to desynchronise our body clock. With the jet age, all of a sudden we were able to travel around the world in 24 hours, unfortunately, our body clocks have not been able to keep up.

Knowledge is power
While jet lag remains a problem, with knowledge comes power. Now that we know what causes jet lag, and also more about the body clock in general, we can ameliorate jet lag. There is no silver bullet, no magic pill that can instantly and effectively cure jet lag, but there are a number of things that you can do that will reduce your jet lag.

Start adjusting
One of the most important things you can do is to start adjusting to your destination time zone before you leave. If you can slowly adjust your body clock then you can reduce the clash when you arrive. Do it gradually, start by trying to go to bed half an hour earlier or later, depending on whether the time zone is in front or behind you. Do this for several nights and then move to an hour earlier or later, again do this for a few nights before making it an hour and a half. Spend a few weeks and move your time three hours forward or back and you will be ready for your trip.

Get in the zone
As soon as you arrive you need to try to stick to the new time zone. If you arrive in the morning you need to stay awake until at least the early evening. Sleeping during the day is just delaying the inevitable. It will be hard that first day but it will be easier in the long run.

Expose yourself to natural light
The body clock is synchronised by light levels and light colours. Bright blue light tells it that it is day, darkness that it is light. When you arrive, try to expose yourself to as much sunlight as you can during the day as this will help your body clock to adjust to the new time zone.

Avoid alcohol
While many people use alcohol to help them to get to sleep when they can’t the problem is that it is actually very damaging to sleep patterns and it will only make your jet lag worse. Don’t drink on the plane and avoid alcohol for the first day or two after you have arrived.

Drink lots of water
Flying is a dehydrating experience, so make sure you drink lots of water before, during and after your flight otherwise the dehydration will only make your jet lag worse.


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