Jet Lag is a temporary sleeping disorder also known as circadian rhythm disorder. This often occurs in travelers who cross multiple time zones while flying to their destination. Our circadian rhythm is our body clock that tells us when to wake up and when it’s time to go to sleep. There are many ways to combat jet lag:
The first way is to start adjusting to your destination’s time zone a few days before your flight. This can include going to bed at a later time and even spacing your meals out to begin matching with when you would be eating your meals at your destination.
Once on the plane it can be tempting to either sleep the whole way or attempt to not sleep at all. It is important to get some rest on the plane so you have an easier time adjusting to your new time zone. The cabin lights are often manipulated to reflect the time of day at your destination. When it’s night time at your destination, the lights will dim and when it is day time the lights will come back on. If you time your sleep around the lights, it will help you adjust. Even if you can’t sleep on the flight, just resting with your eyes closed can be really beneficial. Try not to stare at your laptop, cellphone, or the in-flight movie screen as these produce Blue Light and can prevent sleep.
When the lights are up, and it is safe to get up from your seat, be sure to walk around the cabin to help increase your blood flow. Stifled blood flow can disrupt sleep and cause damage to your feet and legs over a long period of time. Be sure to drink plenty of water in order to not become dehydrated. Sounds of the plane and other passengers can be distracting and prevent a comfortable sleep environment. Using ear plugs can help, but you can also make a calming playlist that will relax you while you sleep. Make sure you bring along earphones that will be comfortable to sleep in.
Dress comfortably or bring pajamas to change into during the flight. Tight jeans can restrict blood circulation and just be generally uncomfortable, whereas shorts or short skirts can leave you feeling cold. Sleep masks and neck pillows could also serve to make your flight more comfortable. Avoid caffeine (coffee, chocolate, soda) even before the flight since caffeine stays in your system for a long time. Some people drink alcohol to calm their nerves or put them to sleep, but it is best to refrain from drinking any alcoholic beverages while on your flight. Alcohol will not only leave you dehydrated, but it will also cause any sleep to be inconsistent and you will feel groggy upon waking.
If you rely on sleep medication, make sure you take into account the length of your flight and the dosage amount your body can take. The last thing you want is to still be under the influence of your sleep medication when you’re trying to navigate around a new country. If you cross four time zones during your trip, then it can take approximately four days to adjust to the new time zone. Try to avoid napping during this adjustment period and stick to the alarms you set.