So you're finally taking the European vacation of your dreams. Congratulations! But when you arrive, you realize that after crossing over multiple time zones, jet lag has hit you hard. How do you treat this temporary disorientation so you can enjoy your vacation? These four ways to recover from jet lag will have you energized and ready to explore your destination in no time.
Start Adjusting Before Your Trip
Your journey to jet lag recovery should begin before you even board a plane for your trip. A few days before you depart, start moving your bedtime closer in the direction of when it will be when you are in the time zone you are traveling to. For example, if you are traveling east, move your bedtime earlier in the evening so you start to wake up earlier. If you're traveling to the west, move your bedtime later in the evening. Although you will still probably experience jet lag when you arrive at your destination, there's a better chance that you won't face as harsh of an adjustment to the shift in time zone because of your preparation. Extend this tactic to the plane ride as well, as you should try to shift your sleep schedule on the plane to the time zone of your destination. If you have the ability to practice this strategy even slightly before departure, you could improve your chances of conquering jet lag quicker.
When your body is adjusting to a different clock than it is used to, be sure to drink plenty of water so you continue to function at your peak. As best as you can while adjusting, try to avoid large amounts of caffeine or alcohol, as these will further confuse your body's internal clock. When you are already facing a situation that is unfamiliar for your body, you'll want to keep things as basic and simple as possible. In terms of hydration, this means drinking more than enough water.
Stay In The Light During The Day
One way your body adjusts to a different time zone is by regulating itself in accordance with the light. After all, you've lived your entire life awake when it is light outside and asleep when it is dark. If it's daytime when you arrive at your destination, try to be outside as much as possible. Although you will most likely be exhausted, your body will still have a response to the light that should keep you awake until it's dark. The worst thing you can do when you arrive is go to sleep right away. This does nothing for your internal clock and keeps you away from the light and the natural functions your body has to keep you awake.
Focus On Eliminating Sleep Distractions
When you do make it to the night and it's time to fall asleep, try to eliminate distractions as much as you can to get a deep, normal night of sleep. Essentially, you should be doing all you can to get to REM sleep. Wondering how to get more REM sleep? Try to avoid any stimulants (such as caffeine) within six hours of falling asleep. Also, try to have as normal of a day as possible, despite how tired you might be. If you can wear yourself out during the day with lots of walking and exercise, you'll be more tired at night and able to reach REM sleep more easily. REM sleep will deliver the recharge your body needs to get back up and be free of the constraints of jet lag the next day, which in the limited space of a vacation can be key to getting the most out of your trip.
Many people wait their entire lives for a trip across multiple time zones, spending years saving the money and finding the right time to take the vacation. The last thing you want to happen when the trip finally comes is to have it ruined by the inconveniences of jet lag. By adjusting before your trip, hydrating, staying in the light during the day, and focusing on eliminating sleep distractions, you can find a quick recovery from jet lag and get the most out of your vacation.