How To Survive Jetlag
Jetlag is that sluggish feeling that is a result of your body clock being disrupted, and it’s no fun.
It is usually thought of as a result of traveling into new timezones because, in the jet age, our travel is so fast that our bodies don’t have time to adjust. However, it can also the caused by shift work or even changing either into or out of daylight saving time.
For me, jetlag means feeling so, so tired, but not being able to go to sleep. The general symptoms are:
- Insomnia and the desire to sleep during the day
- Loss of appetite
How to get over jetlag
The only way to get over it is to get your body used to the local time. Unfortunately, this will take at least a day. It’s not an enjoyable time, but the tired feeling will eventually disappear.
Here are some tips for getting rid of it sooner than later:
- Eat, exercise and sleep according to the local timezone. This may be easier to achieve if you have just traveled in an easterly direction; it is probably easier to make yourself stay up later than to try to sleep when you are not sleepy.
- Get out into the daylight as much as possible. The sunlight will help your body clock to adjust to the new timezone.
- Another way to that all important daylight is to use a light therapy lamp. This will be especially helpful if you’re on a business trip and have back-to-back appointments inside, away from the sunlight. Light therapy is also helpful if your destination is an overcast location or is currently experiencing short winter days.
- To use your light therapy lamp, you first need to determine if you traveled east or west. If you traveled eastward, you'll need a 30-minute session for the first 2 mornings. If you traveled westward, you'll need a 30-minute session for the first 2 evenings.
- Have a look at our Compare page for the best light therapy lamps. Or you may have a portable lamp in mind for traveling. Our full review of the Verilux portable light therapy lamp may be helpful.
How to avoid jetlag in the first place
With some preparation, you can reduce or completely block these symptoms.
- Before traveling, gradually adjust your sleep time to make the timezone change less noticeable. For easterly travel, move your sleep time earlier in small increments. For westerly travel, you need to stay up later. Ideally, it would be best to start living according to your destination timezone a few days before travel, but this is not always practical.
- Take accessories with you to help you to sleep; a sleep mask, earplugs, your favorite sweater.
- Set your watch to the time of your destination at the beginning of your travel. This will help you keep track of when you should be eating and sleeping.
- Plan to stay well hydrated. Avoid alcohol during travel. Dehydration adds to your fatigue, and alcohol adds to your dehydration.
- It’s difficult, but try not to nap while traveling. If it is night in your destination timezone, try to sleep for the full eight hours. Make use of your sleep mask and earplugs.
- Sleeping pills are not a good idea as they can leave you feeling sluggish and this will only add to your jetlag problems.
Jetlag is extremely irritating, but luckily it is temporary. Take a bit of time to prepare for your trip, and you can reduce the effects.