Overcoming Jet Lag

By: Anson Wong

Published on: December 15th, 2024

The process of moving to a new country can be a wonderful experience, but the trip itself can come with its challenges, jet lag being among them. Jet lag can disrupt your sleep patterns and lead to fatigue throughout your day. The good news is that it is possible to prepare in advance and lower the effects travelling to a new time zone can bring. This article will include effective strategies to overcome jet lag and promote better sleep. 

What is jet lag? 

Jet lag is a temporary sleep condition where the body’s internal clock is misaligned with the local time of your destination. Depending on the time difference, you may find yourself wide awake in the middle of the night or exhausted by the afternoon. 

Symptoms of jet lag can vary from person to person but commonly include fatigue, daytime sleepiness, difficulty sleeping at night, irritability, difficulty concentrating, digestive disturbances, and a general feeling of discomfort.  

Some research indicates that travelling eastward is more severe. When we travel to the East we are losing time during the day, resulting in difficulty sleeping at appropriate hours. Travelling to the West can be an easier adjustment, as the hours are set back, resulting in a longer day and an easier adjustment for travelers. 

Fighting jet lag 

To minimize the impact of jet lag, it’s helpful to start preparing before you even board the plane. Adjust your sleep schedule prior to your departure to align with your destination’s time zone. If you’re travelling eastward, try going to bed earlier and waking up earlier. For westward travel, you will want to do the opposite, go to bed later and wake up later. 

Another technique you can try is to stay hydrated. Drinking water before, during, or after your flight helps keep you hydrated and reduces the effects of jet lag.  

During your stay, adjusting to the local time zone can be a challenge. Sunlight is important in regulating the body’s sleep cycle and being awake. Spend some time outdoors and avoid staying indoors where sunlight can be hard to reach. In the evening, avoid exposure to bright lights as they can keep you awake. 

Naps are another habit you may succumb to if you are not careful. Long naps can make it harder for you to adjust and prolong jet lag. If you must nap, avoid doing so for extended periods of time, so that your sleep schedule can remain unaffected.  

Once your bedtime approaches you will want to develop a routine to signal your body that it’s time to wind down. Engage in a calm activity such as reading before bed. Your environment can play a part in your sleep quality. Turning off lights and lowering blinds will help keep the room dark, allowing for easier sleep. 

Avoid distractions like smartphones as the light from the screen can keep you up longer, affecting the quality of your sleep. Browsing the internet can occupy your mind and keep your brain alert, making it harder to fall asleep. 

Remember, jet lag is just temporary, so go easy on yourself if the transition isn’t as smooth as you would have hoped. It will eventually pass and you will adjust to your new normal.

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