Last updated: 09:50 AM ET, Fri May 22 2015

5 Ways To Counter Jet Lag

Features & Advice | Rich Thomaselli | May 22, 2015

5 Ways To Counter Jet Lag

Jet lag – it’s not a myth.

The body clock is a funny thing, and it can throw you off for days if you don’t make the proper adjustments.

According to, "Jet lag is also known as time zone change syndrome or desynchronosis. Jet lag can occur when people travel rapidly from east to west, or west to east on a jet plane. It is a physiological condition which upsets our body's circadian rhythms - hence, it is classified as a circadian rhythm disorder. Jet lag symptoms tend to be more severe when the person travels from westward compared to eastward. … Put simply, our circadian rhythm regulates our daily activities, such as sleep, waking, eating and body temperature regulation. Problems readjusting our internal biological clock cause jet lag, as do problems with shift work, and some sleeping disorders. People with jet lag have their sleep-wake patterns disturbed. They may feel drowsy, tired, irritable, lethargic and slightly disoriented. The more time zones that are crossed rapidly, the more severe jet lag symptoms are likely to be.”

So, how to beat it?

Here are five tips.

1) According to Dr. Robert Rosenberg, who runs the Sleep Disorder Center in Prescott Valley, Ariz., preparation is the key. As quoted in, for three nights before travelling east, go to sleep an hour earlier than usual and wake up an hour earlier. When travelling west, sleep an hour later and rise and hour later.

2) Use the flight time wisely. Don’t let your eyeballs fall out of your socket on an eight-hour flight by watching two movies and reading 60 pages in your book. Moderate your down time on the plane and try to rest as much as you can.

3) As exhausting as a long plane ride can be, don’t hit the sack at your hotel no matter what time you arrive. If you get to your destination in the morning, use the antidotes to jet lag – sunshine, fresh air, perhaps even a brisk walk around town. Try to stay up during the day and go to bed at a normal hour. If you arrive at night time, a little walk is a big help in telling your body, you are not going to sleep yet.

4) Lay off the booze. As tempting as those free alcoholic beverages might be sitting in first class, alcohol can be a demon seed when it comes to jet lag. Not only does it go through you, forcing you to urinate more – and thus getting out of your seat more often on the plane – it also dehydrates you quicker. In addition, avoid caffeinated beverages as well for the same reason.

5) Finally, try to avoid sleep medications. Although some people swear by Ambien and other prescription drugs, it’s a quick fix that won’t allow your body to adjust to new sleep patterns naturally.


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