How Can I Prevent Jet Lag?

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Jet lag can be the bane of long-distance travelers, but with a few easy steps, you can reset the circadian rhythms that govern your body’s alertness and drowsiness to ensure you’ll have an enjoyable, productive trip. Here’s how to kick start your internal clock.

Ease Your Way In

Minimize the shock to your body with some clever pre-flight preparation. If you’re traveling east, for a few days before your trip, go to bed a little earlier each night and wake up a bit earlier in the morning. For westward trips, do the opposite. These little shifts will help adjust your internal clock.

Fly at Night

Taking an overnight flight and snoozing on the way can help diminish the effects of jet lag and maximize the effect of a seat that folds down into a bed.

Enlist Hormonal Help

Melatonin, a hormone that’s available as an over-the-counter supplement, helps regulate and maintain our bodies’ circadian rhythms. It can also be a powerful ally in your fight against jet lag. During your flight, take a melatonin supplement at around the normal bedtime for your destination, and keep taking them at bedtime once you arrive.

Drink Up

Even mild dehydration will make the other symptoms of jet lag even worse, so drink plenty of water before and during your trip. Don’t swear off in-flight wines or cocktails, but make sure you’re downing water alongside your harder drinks. Avoid stimulants like coffee, which will further disrupt your sleep patterns.

Go for a Run

If exercise is part of your routine when you’re at home, keep exercising once you reach your destination. A morning workout can help recalibrate your circadian rhythms if you’re traveling east.

Get Some Sun

Sunlight is the biggest help in resetting your body’s internal clock, so once you arrive, get outside and take in some rays. It pays to be a little strategic when it comes to timing this sunbathing. If you’ve traveled east, try to get as much afternoon sun as possible; for westward trips, soak in the morning sun.

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October 24, 2013 - 9:00am
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