Long-haul flights are rarely easy. And for people who struggle with insomnia, flying can present additional problems.
The disruption of normal schedules is sure to wreak havoc on sleep patterns. Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center expert Carlos Schenck provides some tips which, if you travel across time zones, may keep you from yawning your way through your vacations.
1. Get ahead of schedule. Adjusting to the time zone you are traveling to, can help to stay ahead of jet lag. If you are flying east, you can go to sleep an hour earlier than usual each night for a few days before your flight. If you are traveling in the opposite direction, stay up later than you normally would. Do this in steps over a period of days. According to Dr. Schenck, making the adjustment gradually is essential.
2. Soak up the sun. When flying west to east, you will likely feel sleepy on the day after your arrival. To minimize the effect you need to get as much sleep as possible the night before, and some sun. "To keep awake, get bright light early in the day by turning on a bright lamp or taking a walk in the sunshine," Dr. Schenck says. If you fly from east to west and arrive in the afternoon, recharge yourself by getting some late-afternoon sun and try to stay awake until your usual bedtime back east.
3. Avoid alcohol and caffeine. People sometimes make their jet lag worse by having caffeine on board when they should be trying to sleep, or they use alcohol as a sleep aid that will then backfire by leading them to short and inefficient sleep. Alcohol also has a dehydrating effect, which can worsen symptoms of jet lag.
4. Regulate your diet and drink a lot of water. If you follow a pre-flight diet that alternates high-protein meals with high-carb meals, you may significantly reduce jet lag. What's important is to follow a diet that fits your itinerary. Be sure to drink a glass of water every hour so that you stay properly hydrated. Dehydration is one the worst things that can happen to you whether on board or on land.
5. Try melatonin. Melatonin is a natural body hormone that helps regulate the circadian system. It’s also known as "the body’s internal clock". A 2008 study in the medical journal Travel and Infectious Disease determined that melatonin supplements can ease the symptoms of jet lag. It should be taken two to three days prior to the flight. An appropriate dose may be two to five milligrams shortly before bedtime.
Watch the video below by Brian Tracy, the chairman and CEO of a company specializing in the training and development of individuals and organizations, where he shares his top practices to have a comfortable post-flight time.
And here's an infographic capturing the essence of beating jet lag.
Cover photo credit: www.collegequest.com