Travelling long term shifts perspectives and ultimately helps you grow. Heck – we could go on and on about all the life-enriching benefits of taking that giant leap. One impending downside that awaits when you return home? That debilitating jet lag that forces you to gallivant through life like a zombie for a week, at the very least.
That shift in time zones really desynchronises the body clock, although sleep isn’t the only thing that gets affected. Amongst other effects include changes in body temperature, hormone regulation, blood pressure and also the appetite. The disparity between your internal body clock and the time zone you are now inhabiting does this to you.
The question is – how do you effectively mitigate the effects of jet lag from globetrotting? Here are five proven ways that may just be your saviour.
1. Take melatonin – Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by a pea-sized gland around the brain. Its function? To help the body be aware of the time you’re supposed to sleep and when you should be waking up. Melatonin levels usually increase as the sun goes down and then reduces once again upon sunrise. The good news is that you can by melatonin over the counter and consume it should you have trouble falling asleep. Try the 300mcg pills and start with only half doses at once.
2. Limiting blue light exposure at night – You’ve probably already been told to put your phone away to catch proper rest at night, and it’s actually more important than you think. The artificial blue light signals the brain that it is daytime and the body then gets confused, hence it refuses to shut down as it is becoming increasingly alert. If you must use your devices, download apps to block blue light exposure on the screens or invest in blue light-blocking glasses.
3. Plan ahead – You can fix jet lag when you land, but what’s even better is signalling your body about your new time zone before you even board that plane to quicken your adjustment period. One way you can do this is to turn on your blue light-blocking apps during your next destination’s nighttime hours, or taking melatonin at the start of dusk of the new destination. Do this for about five days prior to your actual flight. You can also download the Jet Lag Rooster app for more aid.
4. Prioritise exercise – Once you get to your new time zone, make it a point to work out in the mornings regardless of how lethargic you feel. This gets the blood flowing and helps you to be more awake when you’re supposed to. Additionally, get rid of those blackout curtains you love and allow yourself to be exposed to the sunlight in the morning. It reminds your body and mind that it is day time, and that you should actually get up and get sh*t done.
5. Eat and drink right – Your hunger levels may have also been messed up by the jet lag, and eating at the wrong times at your new destination doesn’t do you any good. It may be difficult to calibrate at first, but try your hardest to stick to the new time zone’s meal hours and it will be much faster for the body to adjust. Also, avoid alcohol on that plane ride as it simply dehydrates the body and worsens the effects upon landing.