Traveling for work or pleasure can be fun and interesting, but traveling to a new time zone can result in jet lag. This condition occurs when your circadian rhythms are slow to adjust to the new time zone and remain on their original biological schedule for several days. This results in your body telling you it is time to sleep, when it's actually the middle of the afternoon, or it makes you want to stay awake when it is late at night.
Here are some tips for minimizing the occurrence of jet lag:
- Select a flight that allows early evening arrival and stay up until 10 p.m. local time. (If you must sleep during the day, take a short nap in the early afternoon, but no longer than two hours. Set an alarm to be sure not to over sleep.)
- Avoid alcohol or caffeine at least three to four hours before bedtime. Both act as "stimulants" and prevent sleep.
- Try to get outside in the sunlight whenever possible. Daylight is a powerful stimulant for regulating the biological clock. (Staying indoors worsens jet lag.)
Modifying your behavior can help your body cope and overcome jet lag. Melatonin is an over the counter product that can also help. Learn more about how to cope with jet lag by creating a sleep friendly environment.