Airplane travel is rarely easy. But throw in traveling to another time zone, and matters get even more complicated. Jet lag is defined by the Mayo Clinic as crossing multiple time zones and putting your body’s circadian rhythms, which regulate your sleep-wake cycle, out of sync with the time in your new locale. While your body will always need time to adjust to a new time zone, there are some tricks to make the transition a bit easier.
SHIFT YOUR TIME BEFORE DEPARTING
If you’re going to be shifting several time zones, beginning the transition early can help. Many travelers will shift their schedules an hour or two in the days leading up to their travels so that their body has already begun the transition to a new time zone.
LEAVE HOME WELL-RESTED
Starting your trip well-rested can help you adjust to a new time zone faster. Nothing is worse than departing on a trip with your body already fighting its existing schedule.
CATCH SOME ZZZ ON THE PLANE
Figure out what puts you to sleep on a plane, and use it to your advantage. Whether it’s the in-flight movie, using an eye mask, or another trick, getting some sleep on the plane will make a big difference. This will help your body adjust to a new area that runs on a different schedule—think of it as a reset button.
EMBRACE YOUR NEW TIME ZONE
As soon as you hear the pilot provide the local time at your destination, adjust your watch, and start living on the new local time. Otherwise, you’re prolonging your home time and throwing your brain off.
AVOID NAPS ONCE ARRIVING
We know this sounds painful. But staying awake until your bedtime in a new time zone will help you adjust faster.
DON'T ADJUST FOR SHORT TRIPS
If you’re traveling for less than 48 hours, it pays to stay on your home time zone due to the short duration of your trip.
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