Traveling from one country to another can be difficult as you pass through time zones and deal with the time changing. This can cause jet lag and make you feel like you should be asleep when it’s light outside. Athletes often have to deal with this, but they are not the only ones. This could be something that has you worried or has even interfered with your planning, but it doesn’t have to.
When jet lag sets in, you may experience fatigue, disorientation, impatience, less energy and general discomfort. This is not a feeling anybody wants when traveling for business or for pleasure. Even though you feel tired, it could be hard to sleep for a few days, but you can use things like eating, activity and social interaction to help reset your natural rhythm.
How to Reset your Natural Rhythm
- 1. Make Changes to Your Schedule - Adjusting your schedule to fit the new time zone before you arrive can help you adapt much faster. This can be done by adjusting your clock by one hour at a time to get you closer to the time zone you are traveling to. Do this every couple of days for a few weeks and you will adjust to the new time zone much faster when you arrive. Even if you are only going to need to adjust by a couple of hours this can help you avoid jet lag and can help you stay on a regular schedule. Along with changing your clocks, you want to adjust when you eat to the new time. If you don’t it won’t matter, as you will just be sleeping at you regular time and your clock will read a different time.
- 2. Hydrate - Hydration can help keep jet lag to a minimum. You will also want to avoid taking in caffeine and alcohol the three days before you depart. These liquids will dehydrate your body, which can make it worse when you arrive. Drink plenty of water before you leave and it will help you once you land.
- 3. Break your Trip Up - If possible, break your trip up and visit other places on the way to your final destination. This will help you as you adjust to each area on your way. If you are traveling to Africa, you may want to consider a trip to Europe first, and then on to the destination you will spend the majority of your time in. This will allow your body to adjust to the new time zone and make it easier when you arrive.
- 4. Sleep at a Normal Time for your New Area - If you arrive in a new time zone and you sleep when others are awake, you will struggle to adjust. Eating and sleeping when appropriate for your new time zone will help you adjust much faster. Even if you are not hungry, you should eat something at regular meal times and try to sleep when bedtime rolls around, even if you’re not tire.
- 5. Stay Comfortable on the Plane - Dress in a way that will keep you comfortable while traveling to the new destination and make sure you move about the plane whenever you get a chance. When you sit for long periods of time you may experience a restriction in blood flow, which causes fatigue. Stretch every hour or so and you can stay energized by keeping the blood flowing.
Using Food to Help Reset Your Sleep
One of the most effective ways to adjust when you get to a new time zone can be achieved with food. Your body has a sleep clock and a food clock. You can use the food clock to reset your sleep clock by skipping a meal or eating a meal. If you arrive at mealtime in a new country, go ahead and eat a meal. Even if you are not that hungry, go ahead and eat.
It works the other way, as well. If you arrive and it would be your normal time to eat, but it’s bedtime in your destination, skip the meal and try to sleep. A hungry stomach will allow your body to rest much easier and this can really help you reset your clock and get used to the new area from the first day you arrive.
Your self-discipline will be tested, but if you follow these tips you can adjust much faster. By adjusting your body to a new area, you can enjoy your trip more and if traveling for business, you will be able to perform like you normally do.