It happens to most of us when we travel long haul; that groggy feeling which creeps up on you during the day, and when it is time for bed you’re wide awake. Jet lag is undoubtedly annoying, not to mention having an unwelcome impact on your holiday. And worse still, it’s not just people on gruelling flights to the USA or Europe who are affected; jet lag can strike when you travel through different time zones, even if that difference is only an hour or two. There are a number of things you can do to ease the problem, however. For small time changes, one option is to shift your body clock closer to the new time zone beginning a few days before you depart on your trip. For example, if your destination is three hours behind your home town, go to bed an hour or so later, and get up an hour or so later than usual.
For larger time differences you can consider taking a melatonin supplement. Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain that facilitates our ability to sleep, especially if you need to go to bed earlier than you usually do. Other useful options to combat jet lag include focus on daylight and taking naps. Exposing yourself to natural light in your new time zone can help reset your biological clock, and trick your body into believing it should be awake. If you can’t get outside, a brightly lit room during the day can be a substitute. And if you’re fond of naps, a 30-minute to one-hour snooze can be beneficial as it will revitalise you enough to stay awake through the day and have a chance of having a good night’s rest. What you eat and drink also plays a role with jet lag, especially caffeine; don’t rely on it too much to keep you alert during the day as this could also impact on your sleep at night. Also avoid alcohol and heavy, rich meals too close to bedtime.