Alaska Sleep Education Center

Tips for how to manage jet lag

Posted by Jennifer Christensen on Jun 5, 2013 11:48:00 AM

If you’ve traveled rapidly over several time zones, you’ve likely dealt with jet lag. The official term for jet lag is “desynchronosis,” a condition that results from alterations to the body's circadian rhythms resulting from rapid transmeridian (east–west or west–east) travel on aircraft. That means jet lag is a totally new human experience – it is only as old as traveling by airplane. It can be tough to manage jet leg, but we can help. 

The rule of thumb is you should expect a day of recovery for each time zone crossed. Some ways to help you deal with jet lag are:

Light therapy. Light affects your body’s circadian rhythm (anyone who has experienced an Alaskan summer – or winter! – understands this). By either limiting or exposing yourself to light you can affect that rhythm yourself. Using a light box to help reset your new clock can help – as can exposing yourself to plain old sunlight. 

It’s also important to avoid light at certain times of day – it’s helpful to try to reset your clock before you leave on a trip by going to bed an hour or two earlier (block out that Alaskan sunlight) for a few days before you leave.

Melatonin. Some folks have reported success using melatonin, a hormone our bodies treat as a darkness signal. It is inexpensive and available over-the-counter, and will help you reset your clock in your new destination. Note, however, that the FDA does not regulate this product.

Sleep and hydrate. Finally, help prevent jet lag by sleeping as much as possible on the plane, and staying hydrated. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, both of which can make jet lag worse.

Do you have any tips or remedies for jet lag? 

Topics: alaska sleep clinic, travel

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