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How to Cope With Jet Lag

What is jet lag and why do you get it?
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11 Tips for Dealing With Jet Lag

Some of these strategies may help prevent or ease jet lag:

1. Simulate your new schedule before you leave.

“If you’re traveling east, start moving your bedtime earlier,” says Avelino Verceles, MD, assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of the school’s sleep medicine fellowship. “Shift it a half-hour earlier each night for several nights before you leave.”

If you’re traveling west, do the opposite. You can also try moving your mealtimes closer to the time you’ll be taking them at your destination.

2. Adapt to your new schedule while in flight.

Change your watch when you get on the plane.“This is mostly psychological,” says Siebern, “but it helps you get into the mind-set of what you’ll be doing in the place where you’re going.”

Try to sleep on the plane if it’s nighttime where you’re going or stay awake if it’s daytime -- but don’t force it. “It can be difficult to force yourself to sleep and that can cause frustration, which can then prevent sleep,” says Siebern. “If that happens, just try to rest as much as possible.”

3. Arrive early.

If you need to be on top of your game for an event at your destination, try to arrive a few days early, so your mind and body can adjust.

4. Stay hydrated.

Drink water before, during, and after your flight to counteract dehydration. Avoid alcohol or caffeine a few hours before you plan to sleep. Alcohol and caffeine can disrupt sleep and may cause  dehydration.

5. Move around.

Get up and walk around periodically, do some static exercises, and stretch on the flight. But after you land, avoid heavy exercise near bedtime, as it can delay sleep.

6. Consider melatonin.

Melatonin naturally secreted in our bodies helps regulate our circadian rhythms so that we sleep at night. But the jury is still out on the effectiveness of the supplement melatonin to combat jet lag and aid sleep. Some research shows that it can reduce jet lag on flights both east and west, but other research has not shown a benefit.

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