Traveling Across Time Zones? How To Fight Jet Lag

Going on a trip can take a lot out of you—especially if you’re traveling to a different time zone. That’s when you can start to experience jet lag, which can disrupt your normal sleep routine, causing fatigue and other symptoms like gastrointestinal problems. While jet lag is only temporary, it can affect the first few days of your vacation (and who wants to waste any time when you’re on a fabulous trip?). It can also make returning to your normal schedule afterwards even tougher.

Here are some steps you can take to fend off jet lag to enjoy every minute of your vacation:

  • Stick to your normal sleep schedule: If you’re traveling through the day, try to stay awake until your normal bedtime so that you’ll be able to sleep through the night once you land. Sleeping through a daytime trip may keep you up all night and not well rested for the next day, causing your jet lag to persist. Do your best not to nap on the plane, but if you close your eyes, make sure your nap doesn’t exceed one hour. Sleeping longer than that can cause you to feel more tired and make it tough to fall asleep later. You can even start adjusting your sleep schedule before your trip. Set your alarms to your new times zone (only changing at hour at a time) in the days leading up to your departure (this is especially helpful if you’re making a large jump in time zones).
  • Don’t sleep in!: When you do arrive at your destination and go to bed, you may be tempted to sleep in, but set your alarm to wake up at normal time. Open the blinds for exposure to light, which can influence your body’s clock. Schedule a fun activity so you’ll be less likely to hit the snooze button!
  • Stay hydrated: Plane air is drier than normal and that small cup of water the flight attendant gives you is not nearly enough liquid to keep you hydrated. Dehydration can disturb your sleep schedule, so make sure you are drinking water even before you board the plane and bring a water bottle to stay hydrated during the flight. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and salty snacks that will further dehydration.
  • Keep track of what you eat: If you are traveling through multiple time zones, around meal times or stuck on extended flights, it’s easy to miss meals and fall off your normal eating schedule. As a result, you might find yourself snacking on quick meals with a lot of carbs and sugars. That, coupled with dehydration, can mess up your sleep schedule and leave you feeling tired and irritable. A better plan: Pack some almonds, whole-grain crackers, or protein bars to snack on throughout the flight. For longer flights where you find yourself missing mealtimes, pack meals to eat on the plane on your destination’s schedule.
  • Go out and get some exercise: While you won’t be able to roll out your yoga mat for some sun salutations in the aisle, if you can, try taking standing up or taking a walk to the bathroom (with the seat belt sign off of course!). Once you touch down spend some time outside even if it’s just to hail a taxi. Breathe in some natural oxygen-filled air to wake up your brain.

And if hopping on a plane isn’t in your near future, there’s plenty of eye-opening places to visit in Michigan!

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