12 Tried and True Tricks to Truly Tackle Jet Lag

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The holidays are upon us, which means one thing is certain: people are traveling at a rate of 55% more than usual. Traveling long distances can oftentimes ruin holiday spirits, jet lag taking down even the cheeriest of travelers. The entire world has 24 different time zones, the United States alone holding 6 of them. When broken down, this means that the clock chances 1 hour for every 15 degrees traveled east or west from the Greenwich Meridian. Jet lag is actually caused by a flight direction, not lengths. The crossing of time zones disrupts our natural circadian rhythm, causing disturbed sleep patterns, headaches, exhaustion, and diarrhea/constipation, especially in travelers under 5 and over 60. In order to truly enjoy your holiday this season and not be taken down by jet lag, enjoy our comprehensive list of helpful tips and tricks!

  1. Anticipate the time change by getting up and going to bed earlier a couple of days prior to an eastward trip and later for a westward trip. Doing this tricks your body into thinking your sleep cycle is still normal through the shifting time zones.
  2. Wear sunglasses. Controlling your exposure to sunlight works to control your circadian rhythm.
  3. Plan a stopover. If possible, stopping halfway through your trip gives your body the chance to gradually adjust to the new time.
  4. Eat as the locals eat. If you eat and sleep at locally appropriate times you will hopefully beat jet lag in less than a day and get your body set with the new time and light cycle.
  5. Avoid medication. Using sleep aid medication or caffeine supplements will only further mess with your natural body rhythm, so try your hardest to avoid these sleep remedies.
  6. Drink plenty of H2O. Dehydration makes symptoms of jet lag much worse, so be sure to drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine as much as possible.
  7. Keep active. During your trip try to get up and stretch/move as much as possible, allowing your body to stay alert and aware of your surroundings during the shifting time.
  8. See the sights! Once at your destination spend the day outside seeing the sights, the daylight will help you adjust to the new time quicker than without!
  9. Did you travel East? If so try to get outside during the afternoon. West? Soak up the morning sunshine!
  10. Get anchor sleep. The minimum amount of sleep a person can get to operate properly is 4 hours, so try to fit this in so your body knows to continue to operate on a normal 24-hour rhythm.
  11. Stay on home time. If your trip is less than 3 days, it may be easier to continue your daily activities as if you were still at home, causing your body the least amount of stress.
  12. Recover sleep. Take many short naps to make up for the sleep you are missing out on at night, aiding your body in the shifting process.