Traversing multiple time zones is fun, but it can also take its toll on your body.
There’s nothing worse than missing out on a day or two of your carefully planned holiday because jet lag has kicked in, leaving you exhausted and disoriented.
The number of passengers flying internationally reached an all-time high last year, as 107 million people took to the skies.
That means that more people than ever before are likely suffering from jet lag worldwide.
Luckily, thanks to science, there are ways to protect yourself.
Here’s TIME speaking with Jamie Zeitzer, an assistant professor at Stanford University’s Centre for Sleep Sciences and Medicine, on how to beat the lag:
“The best way to alleviate jet lag is to obtain proper light exposure, which will realign your internal circadian clock to your new time zone,” says Zeitzer. “In general, you want to get morning light exposure, and avoid evening light exposure when travelling eastward, and the opposite when travelling westward.”
You can also reset your body clock a little at a time to accommodate your new time zone a few days before flying. You do this by changing when your body is exposed to light and when it is exposed to darkness.
If you’re flying somewhere that has a six-hour time difference, for example, you could go to bed an hour earlier each night, and wake up an hour earlier each morning for six days before your trip.
Zeitzer suggests staying well-hydrated because dehydration can exacerbate symptoms of jet lag. She also advises on skipping alcohol on the flight and before bedtime as it can disrupt sleep. Once on the ground, exercise can help travelers stay awake. Zeitzer says it’s also a good idea to avoid foods that might otherwise cause indigestion, because jet lag can cause stomach upset.
There you have it. A few lifestyle changes can make all the difference to how you feel after a long flight.
It can also ensure a few more days of energy to explore new places.
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