If you're flying to another country, taking a flight across the country to visit family or friends, or are a frequent business traveler, adjusting to a new time zone can be difficult.
Many people experience a temporary sleep problem when travelling - jet lag. Jet lag often occurs after air travel across several time zones and is caused when the body's circadian rhythms are out of sync with the local destination time.Symptoms can include insomnia, irritability, indigestion, and disorientation in the days following air travel.
For some jet lag last a day for others it can drag on for days, but there are some things you can do to help your body adjust to your new time zone more quickly.
Take Melatonin - Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. One of melatonin's key jobs is controlling the body's circadian rhythm--our internal clock that plays an important role in when we fall asleep and when we wake up. When it gets dark at night and we turn out the lights, melatonin release is stimulated. Light suppresses melatonin release. Starting melatonin supplements prior to or during air travel may actually slow the recovery of jet lag, energy, and alertness.
Adjust Sleep and Wake Time - Start your new sleep cycle a few days before traveling. When traveling eastward, try going to sleep one hour earlier than normal on day one and waking up one hour earlier can help. On day two, bedtime would be two hours earlier and wake time would be two hours later. On the third day, bedtime would be three hours earlier and wake time would be three hours earlier. If traveling westward, bedtime would be one hour later than normal and wake time would be one hour later than normal and it would also increase progressively each day.
Change your watch - As soon as you get on the plane, change your watch to your our new time zone. You can also attempt to sleep on the plane if it’s nighttime at your destination or stay awake if it’s daytime.
Stay hydrated - Drink water before, during, and after your flight to counteract dehydration. Avoid alcohol or caffeine a few hours before you plan to sleep.
Move around - Get up and walk around periodically, do some static exercises, and stretch on the flight. But after you land, avoid heavy exercise near bedtime, as it can delay sleep.
Use natural light - Exposure to sunlight helps regulate our circadian rhythms. On westward flights, get bright morning light at your new destination, and avoid afternoon and evening light exposure On eastward flights, avoid early light exposure in morning and get as much light as possible in the afternoon and early evening. The light helps shift your body’s circadian clock, so that you feel rested and wake at appropriate times at your destination.