How to Take the Lag Out of Jet Lag: 6 Tips for Better Sleep While Traveling
Until the middle of the last century, sleep was simply that – sleep, a passive state with one’s head on the pillow. Fifty years of study has changed our view on slumber and we now know it to be a much more active and restorative process in which our brains process voluminous information including the events of the day.
Still, numerous factors can influence the quality of sleep, among them: age, activities throughout the day, and, for the frequent traveler, the effects of flying and jetlag.
Brains and bodies undergo a wide variety of changes when transitioning from wakefulness to sleep.
Jetlag, familiar to most readers, is what happens when our circadian rhythms – our internal biological clock – and our environment no longer match. Crossing multiple time zones, for example, an eight-hour flight from New York to Munich, may have you arriving at 6:00 a.m. local time, but your body still sees the time as midnight, a time for sleep, not for having breakfast or going for a run. Similarly, later the same day, you may feel as though it’s time to go to sleep while everyone else is going out for lunch, and at the end of the day, you may find yourself staring at the ceiling wide awake while everyone else is tucked in bed.
People suffering from jetlag may also experience headaches, a loss of appetite, and mild irritability.
How to best manage jetlag will vary from individual to individual and depends on many factors including the time difference between home and the current location, the distance traveled, the individual’s own sleep schedule, and the time of year, which affects the time of sunrise and sunset.
There are, however, several things all travelers can do to minimize jetlag’s effects. Here follow six helpful methods.
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