10 Ways to Beat Jet Lag
My kids & I deal with jet lag on a regular basis, since we travel frequently between San Francisco and Europe and from San Francisco to New York City.
Whether there is a 9 hour (SF to Europe) or 3 hour (SF to NYC) time difference at your destination, you will still feel jet lagged – it effects us all, including the little ones. Over the years, I have learned a few tips and tricks to help combat jet lag. But first, let’s start off with the basics.
What Is Jet Lag?
Everyone has an internal clock. It tells us when to eat meals, when to sleep, and when to be awake and productive. With jet lag, that clock is disrupted, leaving us sleeping and eating at odd times. Unless we understand how to handle jet lag, in can definitely be hard on business travelers since they need to be alert at meetings, or for families since many parents don’t get a break and sleep it key for functioning properly.
Tip# 1 Adjust ahead of time
If you have the time (no pun intended) to adjust to your new time zone before traveling there, then do it! Begin eating, sleeping, and functioning on or close to your new time zone. However, this isn’t feasible for everyone, and you’ll have to adjust once you arrive at your destination.
Tip #2 Melatonin supplements can help
Taking melatonin at night will help you sleep in your new time zone. Your body naturally makes this hormone, but taking a melatonin supplement can invoke sleepiness, no matter what time your internal clock thinks it is.
Tip #3 Consider taking Pycogenol
Also, there’s another supplement that has been proven to help with the fatigue and other problems that come along with jet lag. It’s called Pycnogenol, and taking it three times per day for around a week prior to your trip will reduce your jet lag symptoms and make it easier for you to adjust to your new time zone.
Before you take any supplements – either melatonin or Pycnogenol, check with your doctor.
Tip #4 Don’t begin adjusting your children’s schedules until you’ve arrived at your destination
Unlike adults, small kids tend to have strict routines that they need to adhere to. They nap, go to bed, and eat at regular times throughout the day. So, it’s best to keep your kids on their usual schedules until they – and you – arrive at your destination, no matter the time difference. You shouldn’t try to make them adjust beforehand. Once you arrive, then you need to reinforce their regular schedule on their new time zone. It will be rough on both of you, but they should adjust within a day or so.
Tip #5 Don’t cut calories
You may be tempted to continue your diet while on your trip, but this is not a good idea. You’ll need all of the calories that you can get in order to combat the fatigue and system upset that comes with jet lag. Following a low calorie diet for those first few days can be detrimental to the adjustment process.
Tip #6 Choose an overnight flight
If this is an option for you, then take advantage of it. Sleeping on the plane is easier when your body realizes that it is already nighttime, and you’ll arrive at your destination feeling refreshed and ready to function. You’ll adjust to your new time zone more quickly this way.
Tip #7 Avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugar before your flight
All three of these things can keep you awake – making it tougher to sleep on the plane, or, barring that, sleeping once you’ve gotten to wherever it is that you’re going. You can ingest them once you’ve arrived and need to attend meetings, but try to avoid them a few hours before going to sleep at local time.
Tip #8 Enjoy the daylight
Jet lag can actually get worse if you’re cooped up indoors. Take advantage of all of the sunlight that you can get, since it will help your internal clock adjust to your new time zone. This works for kids as well!
Tip #9 Change the time on your watch or phone asap
It sounds like such a small thing, but immediately changing the time on your watch and/or phone after landing will make it easier for you to remember what time it is locally – and your brain and body can then begin to act accordingly.
Tip #10 Realize that jet lag doesn’t last forever
Jet lag only lasts for a few days after you’ve arrived in your new time zone. So, try to relax, don’t stress out about it, and realize that it will get better before you know it!
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