Jet lag: every traveler’s least favorite side effect of globetrotting. According to WebMD, its effects can last anywhere from four to five days, depending how far you’ve travelled and in what direction. And unfortunately, there’s more to it than just exhaustion: inability to concentrate, dehydration, and nausea are also side effects of traveling across time zones.
None of these sound appealing for a wedding or honeymoon, right? So, here are a few simple tips for getting over jet lag and getting your body back on a regular sleeping cycle.
- Prepare yourself ahead of time. Adjust your bedtime and meals according to the direction that you’re travelling. Starting a week or so before you go, try pushing your bed and meals a half hour either earlier or later each day, depending on the way you’re travelling. This way, it’ll be easier to adjust when you arrive at your destination.
- Give yourself time for recovery. Don’t expect to land and feel ready to go right away. Plan a day or two to hang around the pool or leisurely explore the city and let yourself relax and adjust to your new time zone. However, don’t use this time to sleep! Sticking to your old schedule will only make your symptoms worse.
- Only drink water. Caffeine disrupts your sleep schedule and alcohol will only further aggravate the symptoms of an upset stomach. Drinking water keeps you hydrated, counteracting the effects of a dry airplane and a potentially upset stomach.
- Try taking melatonin. According to sleepfoundation.org, melatonin is a hormone produced by your pineal gland at night that helps you fall asleep. Taking this in tablet form can help you fall asleep quickly and stay asleep. Try using it for an overnight flight or to help you fall asleep according to your new schedule.
- As soon as you get on the plane, set your watch to reflect your new time zone. Jet lag includes mental elements as well. Having a visual of your new time zone will remind you of where you are and force you to move your schedule forward, rather than thinking of what your schedule would be back home.
- Use your flight time to adjust to your new schedule. If you’ll be landing at your destination early in the morning, sleep on the flight. If it’ll be the middle of the afternoon when you land, try your best to stay awake. (This is where we’ll make an exception to the water rule, since a little caffeine can come in handy!)
- Get out in the sun! Once you arrive, you may feel the urge to sleep, depending on how you traveled. Limit your naptime to 30 minutes, and then get busy. Being active and getting out in the sun will help your brain adjust.
- Don’t forget to adjust your meals. Your sleep cycle is not the only thing affected by jet lag, but the digestive system as well. Eat light meals to allow your body to avoid nausea and other stomach-related symptoms.