How to avoid jet lag

Posted by Athenkosi Matyalana on 16 August 2013

1. Travel in a westerly direction, if possible. According to Dr Russell Rosenberg of the Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine, jet lag is worst if you’re flying east. The human body cycle is slightly longer than 24 hours, which makes it hard to shift your body clock earlier. When travelling west, you need to stay up late, which is more acceptable to your body than going to bed early.

2. Avoid uncomfortable clothing. You need sufficient rest during your journey and that’s impossible when you’re not comfortable.

3. Keep hydrated by drinking lots of water during your trek. Brian Clegg, author of Inflight Science: A Guide to the World from Your Airplane Window encourages travellers to avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, which lead to a loss of body fluids, causing dehydration and subsequent sleeplessness.

4. It may sound obvious, but make sure you get sufficient sleep during your journey.

5. Making a few stopovers during your trip (if the route allows) could help your body readjust faster to changing time cycles. If you’re travelling for more than six hours, try to take a day’s break before continuing the journey to help steer your body clock in the right direction.

6. Once you’re at your destination, soak up some sunlight. A study by the Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago revealed that participants exposed to sunlight in the morning for a period of three days experienced a body-clock shift by an average of 2,1 hours. In other words, they were less jet-lagged and fully adjusted to the new time zone two days earlier than those not exposed to sunlight.

7. If all else fails, try melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycle. It’s available in capsule form over the counter at most pharmacies in South Africa.

If those don’t work and you have jet-lag, try these tips to cure jet lag.

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