Ever miraculously wake up a minute before your alarm goes off? That’s your Circadian Rhythm showing off its love for consistency. Break it and there’s a world of trouble in store. That’s why when you cross over a couple of time zones and end up in Frankfurt for lunch when it’s really 3 AM back home, you feel oddly chipper. But that’s followed by a disgusting Khabib Nurmagomedov-style KO once your body realizes you’ve betrayed its careful planning.
This breach of the Circadian Rhythm is commonly referred to as Jet Lag, or simply put by the CDC “a mismatch between a person’s normal daily rhythm and a new time zone.” As the holiday season travel comes into full swing, Jet Lag will inflict millions of travelers with drowsiness, insomnia, irritability, and other issues related to sleep deprivation. To stay ahead of the opponent, here’s some advice from the experts.
Adjust Before Travel:
To beat this foe, training is in order. To ease the stings of Jet Lag, The CDC recommends “gradually moving mealtimes and bedtimes closer to the schedule of your destination. Before traveling from the East Coast to Europe, go to bed a half-hour earlier than usual for several nights. If you’re traveling a few time zones westward, stay up a half-hour later for several consecutive nights.”
Apps like Timeshifter can help optimize this pre-travel acclimatization.
Book Flights Strategically:
Additionally, book your flight for a morning or mid-day arrival. When traveling far, it can be beneficial for resetting your biological clock to arrive during the day, as “it jump starts you much more quickly,” says Luxembourg-based sleep coach Christine Hansen.
Sleep Well During Flight:
To stay sharp, it’s imperative to get some good shut-eye on the plane, but for some, that can be a near-impossible feat. Strong pharmaceutical drugs are an immediate DQ, so the healthier options include:
- Packing an eye mask, as darkness induces melatonin, the hormone most present in sleep.
- Taking some natural Melatonin pills (available over the counter)
- Investing in comfort tools: Co-director of Stanford University’s Center for Sleep and Circadian Sciences, Jamie M. Zeitzer claims, “anything you can do to get comfortable enough to sleep can have a very strong placebo effect.” Try noise-cancelling headphones, a C-shaped pillow, or even a foot hammock
- The CDC recommends planning to arrive at least two days before an important event.
- Stay Hydrated: While alcohol might get you to snooze, don’t count on it for a good sleep.
- According to Harvard Health, engaging in exercise and social events upon arrival can expedite a biological clock reset.
A combination of any of these tips will help grapple with Jet Lag. Good preparation and a comfortable in-flight rest seem to be the best solutions. If a tussle with Jet Lag can’t be won, rest assured that the knocks are only temporary.