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How to Win the Battle with Jet Lag

By Sandy Schroeder

You may be a frequent flyer, or an infrequent vacationer, but either way you probably join the millions of others when you fight the battle with jet lag. Headaches, stomach pain and fuzzy thinking can all turn up to plague your trip.

Ways to Fight the Battle

The New York Times says you need to understand the basics first. If you’re traveling east and want to adapt to the new time, you will have to wake up earlier and go to bed earlier than you normally would. This is known as advancing your body clock. If you’re traveling west, you’ll have to adapt to the new time by waking up later than usual and going to bed later than usual, delaying your body clock.

The Light Zone and Other Tips

Telling your body’s clock when to sleep and when to wake, is really all about light and darkness.

Harvard Health says that if your destination is just one or two time zones away, you may be able to wake up, eat, and sleep on your regular home schedule. At your destination, schedule appointments and activities for times when you would be functioning at home.

When you're traveling farther, gradually switch over before the trip. For several days before you leave, move mealtimes and bedtime closer to the schedule of your destination. Even a partial switch may help.

During the flight, drink a lot of fluids, but skip caffeine or alcohol. Both can increase dehydration and accelerate your jet lag. They can also disturb sleep.

Switch your bedtime as rapidly as possible upon arrival. Don't turn in until it's bedtime in the new time zone. Use the sun to help you readjust. If you need to wake up earlier in the new setting if you have flown west to east, get out in the early morning sun. If you need to wake up later, flying east to west, expose yourself to late afternoon sunlight.

I have made numerous trips from the west to the east and I gradually ironed out my jet lag as I began to understand how to use light and darkness to my advantage.  Don't give up and just suffer.  Plan ahead and use light to help you fight the battle as we have discussed here.

If you're traveling on short notice or having a lot of difficulty with jet lag, ask your doctor about a specially timed dose of melatonin which can help shift your circadian rhythms.

As always, see your doctor before taking new medications and discuss the whole issue of jet lag.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Eagan, Minn.


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