Vacations are meant to be enjoyed, so it helps to be as energized as possible when you're traveling. Long flights and major time differences can often mean you lose precious time that could otherwise be spent sampling local fare, sightseeing, or otherwise living your best life wherever you are. Thankfully, with a few tips for jet lag, you can make sure you'll be awake and alert enough to soak in every detail of your trip.
Alongside parched skin and flight anxiety, jet lag is among the most common ways that traveling can take a toll on your body. The affliction occurs when you travel to a different time zone and your internal clock is still on your home time. This results in daytime fatigue and disturbed sleep, which also means moodiness, sluggishness, leisure sickness, and even digestive issues that frequently go hand-in-hand with lack of sleep.
The good news is, health and nutrition experts like Diana Morgan, Head of Scientific & Regulatory Affairs for Care/of believe that you can do a few things to reduce the symptoms of jet lag dramatically — and they're not all what you'd expect. So if you're planning your winter destination somewhere overseas (or with a noticeable time difference), pay close attention to the five tips ahead that will keep you out of bed and ready to tackle a ton of new adventures on your trip.
Commonly recognized as one of the best sleep supplements, melatonin is just as useful when you're traveling as it is for your at-home sleeping woes, so make sure you stash some in your carry-on. "Whether you’re taking an overnight flight or just adjusting to a new time zone, taking a melatonin supplement can help support restful sleep by regulating your circadian rhythm," says Morgan. "Since melatonin levels are more elevated at night, taking melatonin before an overnight flight or before bed in a new time zone can help ease the transition."
Adapt Your Eating Schedule
"When it comes to jet lag, most people think of their sleep cycles — but meal cycles play a key role in helping us adjust to new time zones, too," Morgan explains. "You might not feel hungry for breakfast or dinner when you’re jet lagged, but getting on the meal schedule of your new timezone as quickly as possible can help your body get back into a consistent routine."
Only will drinking tons of water help you avoid dreaded skin dry-out that happens on long flights, but it will actually keep your body functioning best on the inside, too. "Travel dehydration is common and can make it harder to bounce back from a long trip," Morgan says. "Try bringing a reusable water bottle with you that you can fill up after security or carry an electrolyte formula with you to help you stay hydrated through your trip."
Make Your Gut Happy
"Whether we feel it or not, our bodies are used to certain foods, routines, and environments, and travel is bound to disrupt that," Morgan explains. "It’s common for jet lag to cause digestive issues, but taking a probiotic can help. Since probiotics help populate our digestive systems with a balance of healthy bacteria, they work best when taken consistently. Starting a regular probiotic routine (even before travel plans) is a great way to keep digestion on track and help maintain regularity when your routine is in flux."
Limit Screen Time
"It’s tempting to check your phone or watch an episode of TV when you’re lying awake at night struggling with jet lag, but screen time can actually keep you awake longer, since our brains interpret the blue light like daylight," shares Morgan. "If you’re having a hard time falling asleep, opt for a paperback book or some music instead to help you relax."