4 years ago1,000+ Views
Lifehacker also has some jet lag advice. I like that their explanation of jet lag is more scientifically specific: "Essentially, jet lag is a series of symptoms that occur when our internal body clock is disrupted. We all have a built-in body clock. It's a small group of cells made up of unique 'body clock' genes, called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or SCN. These cells turn on and off and tell other parts of the body what time it is and what to do." You can read more about the science of jet lag in the article. Here are their tips: 1. Adjust Your Schedule Before You Leave To get started with this, it's important to understand which way you're traveling, as most people have a harder time adjusting when they travel east than west. When you travel east-to-west, your body clock needs to be delayed so you wake up and go to bed later. This is a lot easier for us to adjust to than advancing our body clock when we travel west-to-east. Some studies have shown that attempting to advance or delay your body clock gradually before you travel can make the adjustment faster and easier on your body, reducing the effects of jet lag. 2. Control Your Light Exposure Controlling your light exposure seems to be the most in-depth process to avoid jet lag, but it may also be the most effective, according to some researchers. Dr. Smith L. Johnston, for instance, chief of the fatigue management team at NASA who I mentioned earlier, advocates this process as the best way to adjust faster to a new time zone. To help your body clock reset to the new time zone gradually, it's important to seek out and avoid light at the right times of day. If you're traveling east, you'll want to advance your body clock, so seeking morning light and avoiding late afternoon light will help your body clock adjust to your earlier time zone. If you're traveling west, you'd want to do the opposite. If it sounds like too much effort to keep track of your light exposure, there's actually an app for that. Entrain is an iOS app developed by researchers at the University of Michigan to help you track your light exposure. It uses mathematics to recommend light exposure at different times of the day to help you with the process of entrainment—i.e. adjusting to a new time zone. 3. Take Melatonin I suggest this with a caveat that you should talk to a doctor first. Melatonin is the chemical your brain releases to make you sleepy, and it's available over the counter, but it's not regulated by the FDA and isn't right for everyone. However, one study found that a dose of 5mg of melatonin in the early evening helped participants to adjust to new time zones faster. Dr. Lewy, of Oregon Health & Science, recommends taking a small dose at the local bedtime each night until your body clock catches up. If you're traveling west, he suggests taking melatonin in the second half of the night instead. 4. Stay on Home Time If your trip is short and you're not traveling over more than three time zones, you could be better off not adjusting at all. Three days or less, for instance, is barely enough time to adjust, so it may not be worth the effort. Set your watch and follow your routine according to your home time zone. I condensed their suggestions for you here - so if you want more details and expert input I suggest you go to the article.
I generally only travel far enough for a 3 hour time difference so I don't have to deal with jet lag too often, but I'll keep these in mind for me next big trip!
I think number two is really important. I travel with my family to London occassionally and when we arrive on cloudy days I have a much harder time adjusting (and staying awake!) than when we arrive on sunny days. Natural light really affects my body clock.
I always plan out my sleep time for the flight before I go, just to be sure I don't suffer too much!
@Sjeanyoon I could not imagine traveling that much either. That would involve some serious displacement! There's actually a really good description of that in Richard Powers' novel "The Echo Maker," which I'm currently reading. Maybe I'll post it, if it's not too long :)
I've never had to deal with a big time change for a brief amount of time so number 4 doesn't apply really apply to me, but I applaud the people who can do it! I can't imagine having constant international business trips.
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