It’s the first official day of your vacation, and instead of spending the day seeing the sights, you’re stretched out in bed sleeping.Or, you’re on a business trip, and you can’t seem to focus on your meeting.You have jet lag, a sleep disorder that can cause irritability, decreased concentration, dizziness, headaches, muscle soreness and gastrointestinal problems such as constipation or diarrhea. It’s not life-threatening, but it can seriously inconvenience your travel or vacation plans.While there’s no single, proven method for preventing or curing jet lag, the following suggestions could help:
- If it’s an important meeting or conference, try to arrive a few days early to give your body time to adjust.You can also try to arrive in mid- to late afternoon, to give yourself time to rest and sleep.
- Before your trip, make sure you’re well rested and not sleep-deprived.
- Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after your flight to counteract the dehydrating effects of dry cabin air. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which will just cause you further dehydration.
- If you’re traveling east, try going to bed one hour earlier each night for a few days before your departure. Go to bed one hour later for several nights if you’re flying west.
- Try to sleep on the plane if it’s nighttime at your destination. If it’s day where you’re going, resist the urge to sleep. Once you reach your destination, try not to sleep until nighttime, no matter how tired you are.
- Most travelers swear by light therapy, to reset their internal clock. Plan ahead to determine the best times for light exposure based on your origination and destination points and overall sleep habits. An online jet lag calculator may make this task easier.
- Consider melatonin supplements. Although it hasn’t been proven conclusively whether this nonprescription supplement can reduce jet lag, it doesn’t hurt to try. Take it 30 minutes before you plan to sleep or ask your doctor about the proper timing.Of course, check with your doctor first to make sure it won’t harm you.