Say Good-bye to Jet Lag for Happier Travels
We've uncovered the best natural energy boosters to get you back on track during—or after—your next trip to another time zone.
Doing the Time Warp is fun. Doing the Time Zone Warp...not so much. Transporting your body from one part of the planet to another disrupts your body's inner clock, making you feel exhausted by day and (ironically) sleepless by night. Tempted to get a quick pick-me-up from caffeine? Don't do so if your watch says it's after 4 p.m. local time. Consuming caffeine too close to bedtime could make it more difficult for you to fall asleep, which will leave you feeling crummy tomorrow. Instead, try these natural fatigue fighters before and after you fly.
Before Your Travels
Decide if you can ignore the time change. Are you going for just a short trip (say, a few days)? Do you have control over your schedule? If so, you can stick to your "normal" at-home mealtimes and bedtime. If that means you're getting up at 10 a.m., breakfasting at noon, and hitting the hay at midnight—all in local time—so be it.
If you can't, shift your bedtime schedule before you leave. If you will have to adapt to your new time zone, try this: For a few days before your trip, go to bed a bit earlier if you're traveling east or later if you're traveling west. You might feel the effects less if you make the switch in small increments.
Try a natural jet-lag remedy. In an Italian study, people who took a pine-bark extract called pycnogenol before and after a seven- to nine-hour flight had half as many jet-lag symptoms as those who didn't take it. Starting two days before your flight, take 50 milligrams of pycnogenol three times a day. Get your doctor's okay before you start—especially if you're on high blood pressure meds—and don't take over 200 milligrams a day.
During Your Travels
Don't snooze on the plane. That is, unless you'll be travelling during your "new" nighttime. Napping at odd times might make it more difficult for you to sleep at night.
See the light. Exposure to light at the right times can help reset your body clock. If you're heading east over several time zones, try wearing sunglasses, especially orange-tinted ones that filter out blue light. Keep them on until mid-afternoon. When traveling west, get outside without your sunglasses until early evening.
Rethink your menu. Foods that are high in protein are energizing, while carbohydrates stimulate the release of sleep-inducing melatonin. When you travel, try to eat some protein-rich foods at breakfast time and some carbs during dinner.
Avoid sleep wreckers. Avoid alcohol and caffeine within a few hours of bedtime. Stay hydrated with water and other fluids instead. Also avoid a doing a strenuous workout or eating a big meal right before bed.
Take a natural sleep aid. Melatonin is a hormone that may help you fall asleep faster. Take 3 to 5 milligrams about a half hour before bed and you may ease into rest (and travel recovery) a bit easier.
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