One of the best things in life is to be able to travel to your heart’s content. Some people can only dream of visiting another country, while others make it their life’s goal to visit every place on their bucket list. But to have that chance spoiled because your body can’t keep up with the time zone differences would just be a waste.
Imagine if you’ve finally managed to save up for a trip to Paris, which you’ve been dreaming of ever since you were a kid. But when you get there, you can’t enjoy the tours because you’re cranky and irritable from not getting enough sleep. If you don’t want that to happen, here are three tips you can use to beat the symptoms of jet lag:
Mind Your Circadian Rhythm
Most people are unaware that the human body follows its own schedule, which is called the circadian rhythm. This 24-hour internal clock sends out signals that alert the body to know when to sleep, wake up, feel hungry, or need to excrete bodily waste. And this is what’s being disrupted every time you exist in a different time zone.
The medical term for jet lag is desynchronosis because it literally means that your body is out of sync. Since your body still thinks it exists in your original time zone—even when you’re not physically there—it can throw your circadian rhythm off the rails. That’s why you feel exhausted and restless all the time.
Fortunately, it’s not impossible to trick your body into thinking that it’s elsewhere, but you’ll need to make a few adjustments. For instance, you can set your watch and phone clock to adjust to the time zone where you’re in. Plus, you’ll need to get as much sleep and sunlight as you normally would at home.
Invest in High-quality Sleep
Sleep is an essential part of your day because that’s when you allow your body to rest and recover from the activities you did. When you sleep, your cells repair and regenerate themselves to replace the old ones. Your entire body slows down to a relaxed state, which is a breath of fresh air from the high-alert state it’s in when you’re awake.
Without enough sleep, you’ll feel groggy, less concentrated and alert, or like you have no energy to function like you normally do. This happens when you have jet lag and can’t find proper sleep while you’re traveling, which can then affect your mood throughout your vacation.
A great way to preempt this is by finding a healthy sleep guide that works for you. Figure out what works for you and what doesn’t so that you can prepare appropriately. You can also invest in a durable memory foam pillow if it helps you sleep better at night. Or you can get yourself a white noise machine if needed.
But you can always go with a mobile app if you need white noise, so you don’t have to spend on a machine. Another way to ensure high-quality sleep is by requesting to be in a room with black-out curtains. With such curtains, you won’t have to worry about sunlight peeking through and disturbing you while you’re sleeping.
When in Doubt, Trust in Melatonin
The body produces a hormone called melatonin, which helps regulate your circadian rhythm and sleep cycle. Melatonin production is stimulated by darkness, which is why you get sleepy at night, and you find it harder to sleep when the sun is out. This is especially true considering that the circadian rhythm follows the solar day and is affected by daylight.
However, since you travel to different time zones, there’s a possibility that you’ll go to places where the sun is still out even during the early evening. And because it’s bright outside, you won’t be able to stimulate your natural melatonin production, unless you’re in a dark room indoors, away from daylight.
Luckily, there are melatonin dietary supplements that you can take if you’re having trouble with jet lag because of the difference in time zones. Taking melatonin 30 minutes to an hour before you plan to sleep can help you get better control over your body clock, but make sure to keep your phone away because the hormones can be inhibited by bright light.
And don’t worry because melatonin is not a sleeping pill, even if it helps you sleep better or appear less tired when you wake up. Sleeping pills are considered a medication that can only be used for a short period, but melatonin is a dietary food supplement that mimics the effects of the natural hormone.
Don’t let your body get in the way of you enjoying your vacation because it doesn’t happen very often. Instead of falling prey to the symptoms of jet lag, take the appropriate measures to make sure that it won’t affect you drastically, or at least reduce the negative impacts on your mood and energy.