How to Prevent Jet Lag
Though the world isn’t as wide-open as it once was, people still have to travel. Due to health and safety risks, many people haven’t seen family members in a long time and have to fly on a plane for their visit. Others are back to traveling for work or have events to attend. Some weigh the risks and decide a vacation is mentally necessary. No matter your reason for travel – destination: boring conference or to fulfill that life-long dream of hiking at Machu Picchu – jet lag can ruin your experience. We thought you could use some tips for traveling and how to prevent jet lag so you can get on with the business of globe-trotting. We’ll also cover some travel safety and tips for wellness while you catch that ride in the sky.
Your Travel Tips We’ll Cover Today Include:
- What is jet lag, and why do we get it?
- How to prevent jet lag
- How to deal with jet lag
- Tips for getting back on your sleep schedule
- CBD for sleep, CBD benefits, melatonin, and other things to help
What Is Jet Lag and Why Do We Get it?
Jet lag is a condition brought on by our modern forms of travel. As we jet-set across the globe, our bodies cannot adjust quickly enough to our new position on the planet. This can cause a lot of problems for you if you travel for work or leisure.
Let’s take a look at what jet lag is and how it affects your body.
What Is Jet Lag?
Jet lag, also called desynchronosis and flight fatigue, is a temporary sleep disturbance that can affect anyone who travels across multiple time zones. Your body’s internal clock, the circadian rhythm, becomes disrupted as it is still tied to the time zone you originated from and cannot quickly adjust to the new time zone where you arrive.
Jet lag can cause a host of issues for your mind and body:
- A feeling of malaise or general unwellness
- Daytime fatigue
- Difficulty sleeping at night
- Difficulty staying alert during the day
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mood changes
Why Do We Get Jet Lag?
Your body has an internal time clock called the circadian rhythm. It is based on the shifts between the light of day and the dark of night, and it tells your body when it is time for you to go to sleep. Light processes through your eyes and reports to the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or SCN, located in the hypothalamus of your brain. When you travel to a new time zone, the daylight and nighttime hours shift, but your body doesn’t react right away.
It takes a few days for the body to readjust after these light changes occur. This confuses your body and mind, which are still synched to the original time zone and light shifts. It can be worse if you travel across multiple time zones, especially when you travel in an easterly direction.
Jet lag usually affects people who travel by plane, but even if you drive or take a boat to travel, you can still get jet lag. Some research also suggests that cabin pressure and low humidity levels inside the cabin of planes could be a factor in getting jetlagged. It may be worse for folks who often travel for longer distances or older people whose bodies may take longer to adjust.
Though the condition is temporary, it can become a regular issue for you if you frequently travel, which may require a doctor’s visit to help you manage the symptoms and maintain a healthy sleep schedule that won’t disrupt your travel experiences.
It’s important to note that while it takes your body several days to adjust to a new sleep pattern, this also applies to your body in other ways. For example, it may take a few days for your bowel movements, hunger fluctuations, and other bodily functions to adjust.
Tips for How to Prevent Jet Lag
Knowing how to prevent jet lag is half the battle. If you know what’s coming, you can plan, prepare, and get ahead of it. Don’t assume you’ll just “tough it out,” which could be stressful for both your body and your mind. There’s no reason to put yourself through that. The next time you need to travel, try these great tips for how to prevent jet lag.
Arrive Early at Your Destination
The best prevention for jet lag is to give your body a day or two to adjust. You may have the option of arriving a little early, and if so, take advantage of that time to let your body ease into the new time zone.
You can also play a few “time tricks” on yourself. For example, move things in your schedule up to an earlier time, even if you aren’t quite ready. Go ahead and eat lunch on the new schedule or even a little earlier. Get in a little exercise earlier in the day. Eat dinner earlier and begin your bedtime routine much earlier. This gives you more time for your nighttime relaxation, which could help you nip that jet lag in the bud on the first night of your trip.
Shifting your schedule up like this can help your body to begin adjusting to the new time. This is much easier for you to do if you arrive early to your destination and keep your itinerary simple on that first day.
Stay Well-Hydrated on the Plane
Studies suggest that the low humidity in the cabin air of planes can exacerbate the situation. It is recommended that you stay well-hydrated while you travel and especially while flying. Yes, perhaps skipping that cocktail would be better for you, as alcohol can dehydrate you. Have a glass of water instead, and pop on some soft music with your earbuds to help manage the travel jitters. Your body will thank you later.
Be Aware of Your Body’s Internal Clock
It may help to take a watch or use an app on your phone, so you can always check the time back home. This will help you know what time your body thinks it is rather than the actual time where you are.
This awareness means that you can help your body adjust by controlling the light you are exposed to during the hours you need to be winding down for sleep. You can kick up the light by getting out in the sun for a walk during the hours you need to be waking up. Using light, you can help your body to adjust faster to the new time, and overall, you’ll feel more inclined to sleep on the new time schedule.
Prepare for a Little Sleep Work
How to overcome jet lag can be as simple as preventing it. Fortunately, some of the same supplies and techniques can help with how to prevent jet lag and get back to your healthy sleep routine.
So, we put together a little list of your travel must-haves to help you beat jet lag.
Pack yourself a Jet Lag Care Kit! Here are a few essentials:
- A comfortable sleep mask.
- Comfortable sleeping clothes.
- A sleeping aid with melatonin: We recommend cbdMD PM products.
- A water bottle.
- Some lavender or bath salts that you find relaxing.
- A book or magazine to read in the evening in place of overstimulating electronics.
- Your favorite Alexa device – she’s great for playing some relaxing nature sounds or ocean waves to help you ease your way into sleep.
- Sunglasses and walking shoes – so you can fit in an early morning walk and get your daylight started, triggering your wakefulness time.
- A journal for writing down your observations, noting your body’s responses and your mental adjustments. This action may help you in planning future trips.
Tips for Traveling Safely and Wellness
Along with how to prevent jet lag, it’s also a good idea to plan for safety and wellness on your trip. Too often, we think we’ll just “fix” it all once we get home, but this can make our trips less enjoyable and create larger health issues. Here are a few tips for keeping your body and mind safe and well while you travel.
Research Your Travel Destination
- Know the weather for your destination, so you know how to pack for your trip.
- Know the emergency facilities in the area to which you travel. Keep a document of these addresses and phone numbers should you need them.
- Keep someone back home notified of your travel plans and hotel information if anyone needs to reach you.
Avoid Dangerous Situations
- Try not to draw attention to yourself or your valuables while you are at the airport.
- Never accept bags from strangers in the airport.
- Keep your belongings with you at all times.
- Tag all of your luggage clearly.
- Check the ID of Uber or cab drivers. Verify that you are getting into the correct reserved travel vehicle.
- Keep a map or directions with you at all times.
- Always keep your cell phone with you and fully charged.
If You Are Traveling Abroad
- Enroll your trip in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, STEP, so you’re registered with the local embassy in your destination country.
- Have copies of all your important documents with you.
- Have your contact information with you should you become ill or have an accident.
- Have a financial contingency plan should you have a financial crisis while traveling.
Step Up Your Self-Care
- Keep your body well-hydrated and well-rested.
- Be careful when dining to eat foods you know your body can handle.
- Limit alcohol.
- Know when to say no. Setting clear boundaries while you travel can help preserve your mental and emotional strength while away from home.
- Bring something with you that offers you comfort, such as a favorite pillow, favorite music, or photos of your family.
- Bring along self-care items such as nail polish, CBD bath bombs, or a favorite lotion for your body. Don’t forget comforts such as lubricating eye drops, lip balm, fuzzy socks, a soft blanket, or an emery board nail file for those annoying nail snags.
- Bring a small healthcare kit with things such including: your regularly prescribed medications in their original and labeled bottles, headache medication, pain relief cream, things gastrointestinal disturbances, bandaids, Neosporin, and moleskin to help prevent blisters or sore spots on your feet from excessive walking.
- Speaking of walking, taking walks while you travel can help to refresh your senses and manage stress.
- Take your time. If you can keep from overloading your travel schedule, taking a little more time with each activity, you can enjoy yourself more and be more present in the moment. Keep a journal of your travel wins and positive moments.
- Go ahead and take those silly selfies – one for each place you visit. Reminiscing over your globe-trotting is a great way to share your trip with friends and family back home and to fill in your travel map with fun memories.
How to Get Back on Your Sleep Schedule
When you travel across time zones, and your body is struggling to adapt, there are some things you can do to help train your body to get back into a healthy sleeping schedule. Along with your jet lag prevention and safety preparedness, it’s time to up your self-care and get back to sleep at the right time for your location.
Here are some tips for teaching your body to adjust a little faster and help you get the sleep you need both while traveling and returning home.
Control Your Light Sources
As we mentioned before, light sources are key when it comes to a healthy internal circadian rhythm. There are two ways to use light (or the absence of it) to help your body get back on track after jet lag has set in:
- Get more light during the waking hours (when you are supposed to be awake and alert). Turn on the lights early, when you should be waking up, even if you feel like you aren’t quite finished sleeping. If you have trouble waking up, get outside for a walk in the daylight to help trigger your circadian rhythm to wake you fully.
- Get less light as bedtime approaches and when it’s time for sleep. Dim all light sources an hour or two before bed and turn off all light sources about a half hour before you want to be asleep.
Be Careful with Caffeine
As tempting as it is to overload your caffeine to combat the effects of jet lag, be wary of how much caffeine you consume and when. If you are particularly caffeine sensitive, even a little caffeine in the hours before bed can prevent sleep or disrupt your sleep throughout the night.
Consider your body’s normal response to caffeine and try to keep caffeinated drinks in that window of time that works well for your body. Try not to overindulge, which could also wreak havoc on your gut, and keep caffeine intake reasonable.
Subsequently, alcohol can also disrupt your sleep. Be wary of overusing alcohol in the hours before bed, which can be a temptation for many people when they travel. Letting down your inhibitions in this regard could make it harder for your body to adjust to the time difference.
Consider CBD with Melatonin
We mentioned CBD with melatonin before, but you may want a bit more information on how that works. While CBD or melatonin, or in combination, are not solutions or cures for jet lag, how they help your body might help you to get back on track easier.
Here’s how it works:
The melatonin in cbdMD PM formulas helps your body to reset at night by saying, “Here’s melatonin; it is time for sleeping.” Because your internal clock may be way off, your body may not produce the natural melatonin you need to bring on drowsiness when you need it. The extra bit of melatonin provided in the cbdMD PM formulas will provide that important triggering hormone your body needs at the time you need it.
The CBD in these PM formulas works much differently. CBD is not something your body makes, but your body does have a built-in processing function called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which allows your body to process and use CBD and other cannabinoids. This is great news for your body because you can get the CBD benefits simply by taking an ingestible CBD product or using CBD topical formulas on a more targeted basis. Many people use a combination of CBD products, both orally and topically, to get even greater wellness benefits. The calming nature of these products can be beneficial when your body is fighting an internal time zone and struggling to adjust to a new one.
Both CBD and melatonin working together can help you relax in the evenings – something that can be quite difficult when trying to sleep in a different environment – and prepare you for sleeping. CBD formulas geared toward sleep are helpful when you need this extra nighttime self-care, whatever time zones your travels take you to.
How to Prevent Jet Lag Is Part of Your Travel Planning
It has been a while since many of us have traveled much, thanks to worldwide health and safety concerns. But now that we are taking to the skies again, we need to remember how jet lag can affect your body. Planning to avoid it is best, but you can try a few of the tips we’ve mentioned above to tame the sleepiness and get back to your regularly scheduled sleep.
Jet lag sucks – but your travel doesn’t have to. Hopefully, these tips for how to travel well and safely, how to prioritize your health while traveling, and how to prevent jet lag will refresh your memory before you travel.