Are you traveling for the holidays? Even if you’re only going from the East Coast to West Coast, jetlag can get the best of you. Entering a new time zone (or simply just traveling!) can disrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythm and make you want to reach for the coffee to stay awake—or chamomile tea to fall asleep. According to the American Sleep Association, nearly 93% of travelers will experience jetlag at some point. Here’s how you can minimize the effect of jet lag on your body and stay healthy during this busy travel season.
Get a head start. Adjust to the new time zone as much as you can before you leave. “Go to bed a little earlier or later, [and] shift your eating and exercise schedules an hour toward the time zone to which you’ll be traveling,” suggests Brandon Berman, sleep research expert for Reverie Sleep-System Company. On the other hand, if your trip is short—say, two days or less, experts suggest just staying on your usual schedule, if possible.
Hydrate yourself. Even though you might be tempted to drink an extra cup of coffee during your flight, avoid caffeinated beverages. Choose water instead of a dehydrating caffeinated beverage, which can intensify jetlag.
Get on local time. Get plenty of sunlight after you arrive so your body adjusts to the new time zone. If you’re going west, get more light in the morning than the afternoon to adjust your circadian rhythm backward, explains this infographic from Huffington Post. And if you’re going east, get outside during the afternoon. At night, use blackout curtains or an eye mask, Berman says. “Sleep, exercise and eat on local time so that your organs are all in sync,” he adds.
Create a cozy sleep environment. Whether it’s using earplugs, sleeping on your favorite pillow or taking a warm bubble bath, flight attendants swear by a relaxing night routine to adjust to a new time zone. We recognize how important sleep is to overall health, so we’ve created this video here to help you determine whether or not you’re catching enough zzz’s! If you notice you’re not and are having trouble doing so, here are our helpful tips on how to help you get a good night’s rest.
Don’t overdo it on Day 1. For the first day in a new time zone, you’ll probably feel a little bit “off,” so try to take it easy in the first 24 hours. “Be sure to schedule a day to relax when you arrive to allow your body to focus on realigning itself and recovering,” Berman suggests.
How do you cope with jetlag? Share your tips here.