If you’ve ever taken an overnight flight and spent the following day in a stupor, you know the effects of jet lag. The next time you travel by plane, take these steps to keep jet lag from ruining your trip.
1. Sleep on the plane
- This works only if you sleep when it’s nighttime at your destination. For instance, if you’re flying from Toronto on an overnight trip to London or Paris.
- Use earplugs and eye shades to block out light and sound.
- You can also try taking three milligrams of melatonin, which some studies suggest may help you fall asleep.
2. Turn on the lights
- If you’re exhausted when you arrive, it’s temping to nap, even if it’s morning. Resist the urge.
- Instead, go for a walk and try to get at least three hours of sunlight. This helps your body adjust more quickly to the new time zone.
3. Reset your body clock before your trip
- If you’re travelling east through several time zones, go to sleep one hour earlier each night for three days before your trip — and get up an hour earlier, too.
- When you wake up, try to expose yourself to bright light for several hours.
- While sunlight is best, a full-spectrum light or light box can also work. You can buy them online or ask your doctor for a prescription.
- Some jet lag experts recommend combining this strategy with taking 0.5 milligrams of melatonin in the afternoon, so you can fall asleep earlier.
- If you’re flying west across several times zones, delay your sleep by an hour a night. If you’re travelling through eight or more time zones, go to bed two hours earlier each night.
4. Use sleeping pills when you arrive
- One study showed that travellers who took 10 milligrams of zopiclone for three or four nights once they arrived slept better and longer than those who didn’t.
- Studies also find that taking two to three milligrams of melatonin on your first night in your new destination, and for up to four days after arrival, can reduce jet lag symptoms.
5. Drink a little coffee in the morning
- It sounds simple, but caffeine is one of the best ways to improve your energy and concentration after flying across time zones.
- Don’t drink too much, or it may affect your sleep that night.
Even flying through just two time zones is enough to mess with your body clock, leaving you bleary-eyed and exhausted. Chronic jet lag can also cause health concerns. But with these strategies, you could get your sleep schedule back on track, and help you enjoy your trip.