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6 Tips for Curbing Jet Lag Symptoms

Updated: Apr 27

Ever felt all out of sorts after hopping across time zones? That's jet lag for you—a temporary mix-up in your body's internal clock. It's like your body's still stuck in the past while you're already living in the future. Jet lag brings a bunch of annoying symptoms like feeling super sleepy during the day, forgetting stuff, getting all confused, sleeping badly, getting headaches, feeling moody, and even having tummy troubles like constipation.

But hey, there are ways to deal with this pesky jet lag thing. Check out these handy tips from sleep expert Matthew Walker:

1. Quick Time Change: As soon as you board that plane, switch all your clocks—like on your phone and watch—to the time of your destination. This helps your brain start thinking in the new time zone, making it easier to adjust.

2. Nap on the Plane: Instead of staying awake the whole flight, try to grab some shut-eye, especially if it's a long one. Even if you can't sleep much, resting helps. Use stuff like eye masks and earplugs to block out noise and light.

3. Skip Booze: Even though alcohol might make you feel sleepy, it messes up your sleep later on. Same goes for coffee and other caffeinated drinks. They mess with your body clock, making it harder to adjust.

4. Get Some Sun: When you wake up in the new time zone, head outside and soak up some sunlight. It helps wake you up and tells your body it's daytime. Try to spend at least 20 to 30 minutes outside.

5. Eat Right Times: Try to eat meals at the usual times for where you are. It helps your body get used to the new time zone faster.

6. Power Naps: If you really need to nap, try to do it early in the day. Keep it short, like 10 to 20 minutes, so you're still ready for a good night's sleep later.

With these simple tricks up your sleeve, you can tackle jet lag like a pro. Even though bouncing between time zones can be tough, you'll be ready to take it on like a champ.

Here's a link to a blog I wrote on why Melatonin works for jetlag but not for other sleep disorders.

How to use melatonin to help with jet lag:

Using Melatonin to Beat Jet Lag

If you're looking for a little help to conquer jet lag, melatonin might be your secret weapon. Melatonin is a natural hormone that your body produces to regulate sleep. When you travel across time zones, your internal clock gets thrown off, but melatonin can help reset it. Here's how to use it wisely:

1. Timing is Key: Take melatonin at the right time to sync up with your destination's bedtime. If you're flying eastward, take melatonin in the evening a few hours before your new bedtime. If you're heading west, take it in the morning to help you adjust to the new schedule.

2. Start Low and Go Slow: Begin with a low dose of melatonin. 2 mg is the standard dose. Too much melatonin can cause daytime drowsiness.

3. Short-Term Solution: Use melatonin only for a short period, typically a few days after you arrive at your destination. It's meant to help you adjust to the new time zone, not as a long-term sleep aid.

4. Consult a Pro: If you have any health conditions or are taking other medications, talk to your doctor before starting melatonin. They can give you personalized advice and ensure it's safe for you to use.

5. Combine with Good Sleep Hygiene: Melatonin works best when combined with healthy sleep habits. That means creating a relaxing bedtime routine, avoiding screens before bed, and making sure your sleep environment is comfortable and quiet.

6. Be Patient: It may take a couple of days for melatonin to kick in and for your body to adjust to the new time zone. Stick with it and be patient—it's worth it for a smoother transition and better sleep.

By using melatonin wisely, you can help your body adapt to new time zones and beat jet lag like a pro. Just remember to start low, time it right, and consult your doctor if you have any concerns. With melatonin on your side, you'll be snoozing soundly in no time, no matter where your travels take you.

Dr Purity Carr

GP and Menopause Doctor, Harvey WA.

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