Although it is hard to believe, the holiday season is just around the corner.
Just where did the time go?
Many of you may be traveling across time zones soon, and we thought it would be helpful to provide some coping strategies and information about jet lag in this week’s blog post.
Jet lag can cause fatigue, insomnia, headaches and digestive problems. So, consider the following information before you travel across time zones!
What is Jet Lag?
Jet lag is defined as a temporary sleep disorder; however, it doesn’t seem temporary while it is happening. By the time you get over the symptoms of jet lag, your trip may be almost over. For instance, if you decided to fly from Los Angeles to Rome for a 10 day trip, it may take as long as six to nine days to recover from the symptoms of jet lag. That’s because it can take 24 hours to recover for each time zone that you cross.
What Causes Jet Lag?
Jet lag occurs when rapid travel interrupts the circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is the biological clock that helps to control both sleeping and waking times. Unfortunately, resetting the circadian clock can be difficult. It is best to take a preventative approach to solving the difficulties caused by jet lag. The tips below can help you to either alleviate or avoid the symptoms of jet lag.
Tip One: Start Changing Your Schedule
If you intend to travel east, start going to bed earlier. Go to bed a half hour earlier each night during the weeks before you travel. If you are traveling west, start going to bed a half hour later each night. You can also move your mealtimes closer to the times you will be eating meals during your trip.
Tip Two: Start Living in the New Time Zone
On the morning of your trip, set your watch to the new time zone. This will help you to adapt to the new time in a natural way. Waiting until your flight lands will only remind you of the time change, and that won’t be helpful in the effort to adjust to the new time zone.
Tip Three: Eat Light and Stay Hydrated
Before your trip, eat a light meal. It is also important to stay hydrated. A 2007 New England Journal of Medicine study states that airplane cabins that are pressurized to accommodate an altitude of 8,000 feet or higher will decrease the oxygen level in the blood. This can cause you to feel dehydrated and uncomfortable. If possible, bring several bottles of water with you. Drink water before, during and after the flight.
Tip Four: Consider Using Melatonin
A study published in the British Medical Journal found that melatonin alleviates jet lag. Melatonin is naturally secreted in our bodies; it helps to regulate our circadian rhythms.
After arriving at your new destination, take a few milligrams of melatonin two hours before bedtime. It usually takes a couple of hours for melatonin to enter the bloodstream. Melatonin is an over-the-counter drug that can be found at your local pharmacy. It would be best to test it out before you leave for your trip. Although melatonin is known to be a safe drug, it never hurts to be sure of how it might react with prescribed medications that you may be taking for other conditions. Check with your physician to find out if it’s safe for you to take melatonin before you buy it.
Tip Five: Natural Light Therapy
Light exposure can help to regulate our circadian rhythms. When flying west, try to schedule a flight that will allow you to be exposed to the morning light when you arrive. If you are flying east, avoid sunlight exposure as much as possible in the afternoons and evenings.
Commercial light boxes can be useful in the effort to combat jet lag; however, light boxes are not recommended for everyone. Some people with cataracts or bipolar disorder should not use light boxes. If you decide that you can use a light box, be sure that the light is not too intense; this can worsen the symptoms of jet lag. The light should be adjusted to simulate morning light. Read the instructions included with the light box for directions on how to adjust the settings.
Tip Six: Take a Hot Bath
It is commonly known that a hot bath can soothe sore muscles. It can also help you to relax after a long trip. When you get out of a hot bath, your body temperature reduces. The temperature reduction can make you feel drowsy. This can help you get to sleep earlier so that you don’t feel lethargic or sluggish during the day.
Tip Seven: Avoid Stimulating Activities
Before you go to bed, take part in relaxing activities for about an hour. Read a book or watch television. Avoid stressful, stimulating activities such as doing work or thinking too much. Both physical and psychological activities that are stressful can cause your body to release the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone is associated with increasing alertness. Alertness is exactly what you want to avoid when attempting to sleep.
Tip Eight: Eliminate Chemicals That Are Known to Disrupt Sleep
Products containing caffeine will decrease the quality of your sleep. As most coffee lovers know, caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you awake for hours. Avoid coffee, tea, cola, chocolate and pain relievers for four to six hours before bedtime. If you are a smoker, refrain from smoking too close to bedtime because nicotine can also interfere with your sleep. Don’t smoke for at least an hour before bedtime.
Tip Nine: Go Light on Evening Meals
Eating a pizza late in the evening will stop you from sleeping. It would be best to eat dinner a few hours before you go to bed. Try to avoid foods that can cause indigestion. If you get hungry during the evening, consider choosing snacks that will not disturb your sleep. We all know what these foods are from our individual experiences. Snacks such as peanut butter on toast will help you sleep. Also, a glass of warm milk can make you drowsy before bedtime.
Although it is usually not necessary to get treatment for jet lag, your doctor may suggest or prescribe medication to help you sleep or stay alert during your trip. Of course, medication can have side effects, so you want to keep this in mind before agreeing that this is the best approach for you to take. Sleep medications can make you feel groggy or lethargic when you wake up. Because that is the feeling you wish to avoid, you will need to check the side effects of any medication that is prescribed for you.
Advice for Frequent Fliers
If you are a frequent flyer, jet lag may be a significant problem for you. You may want to consider visiting a sleep specialist. A physician or a psychologist who has specialized training in sleep medicine can be extremely helpful. There are many ways that sleep specialists can help you to shift your body’s circadian rhythm in the effort to adapt to a new time zone.
We hope that our tips for avoiding jet lag will help you the next time you travel across time zones!
Traveling can be hard on your body’s time clock. Using our tips will be of assistance in reducing the difficulties associated with sleeping and waking before they start. A methodical approach to jet lag is always the best way to combat future symptoms. Of course, we want you to remember that setting one of the alarms at OnlineClock.net will help you to wake up on time when you are traveling.
You won’t need a wake-up call when you use OnlineClock.net.