Exploring an international destination—or perhaps just a different coast than you’re used to—is an exciting endeavor. But sometimes, your body needs a little time to catch up with your mind. Read on for some of our vetted tips to combat the dreaded effects of jet lag.
It’s also much easier to travel west than east; the reason why is a bit complicated, but in layman’s terms, our bodies are naturally adjusted to cycles that run a little longer than a typical 24-hour day. So when traveling west, our bodies adapt more easily to those extra few hours than they do losing hours heading east.
Experts suggest that three days before you’re set to head out, begin to bump your bedtime back one hour each night, if it’s feasible for your lifestyle. It’s also helpful to book a flight that lands in the early evening—that way, you’ll have a few hours to get settled in at your hotel or residence, have a meal, and go to bed at a reasonable hour. Though many people think booking a redeye is the answer—sleeping on the plane and waking up refreshed in your destination—your body will have an easier time adjusting to the new time zone with an evening arrival.
Exposure to light also plays a large role in the body’s adjustment. Scientists have studied a method called “phase shifting,” essentially exposing the body to bright light early in the morning to shift its circadian rhythm before a trip. To figure out just how much you’ll need to do this exposure, use an online calculator like this one.
And our last, but least-fun, tip: Avoid stimulants, sleeping pills, and alcohol. Though that’s much easier said than done, wiring yourself with caffeine to stay awake or having a few too many glasses of wine to sleep on the flight can create unwanted effects like dehydration and even more grogginess upon reaching your destination. That’s on top of the normal, out-of-it effects of jet lag. Save yourself the hassle of adding to the brain fog by sticking to good old-fashioned hydration: water.