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Sleep 101
Conquering Jet Lag: The Ultimate Guide

Traveling during the Summer can be an exhilarating experience, but crossing multiple time zones can lead to a common yet pesky problem—Jet Lag. With travel on the rise, especially in July when an estimated 42% of American vacationers have scheduled their trips, knowing how to minimize the effects of jet lag can make your summer vacation much more enjoyable.

 

What is Jet Lag? 

Jet lag is a temporary sleep problem that usually occurs when you travel across more than 3 time zones. It results from a mismatch between your internal daily rhythms, also known as circadian rhythms, and the new time zone you find yourself in. On average, Jet Lag lasts 2-4 days upon arrival at the destination, but of course its effects vary in length depending on length of travel. While many associate jet lag with difficulty sleeping, it can also affect your mood, concentration, and both physical and mental performance. Here is a more accurate list of its symptoms:

  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Mood changes
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Digestive problems

 

This being said, there are many small steps that can be taken to, if not completely erase its effects, significantly reduce the impact that Jet Lag may have on your trip:

 

1. Before Traveling

Adjust Your Evening Routine

If you’re traveling west, try delaying your evening routine by 2-3 hours starting 2 (if possible, 3) nights before your departure. Conversely, if you're heading east, anticipate your evening routine by the same amount of time. This will help your circadian rhythm in starting to gradually adjust to the new time zone.

Manage Light Exposure

Especially during this adjustment period, it's crucial to regulate your exposure to bright light from phones, laptops, and other screens. As you wind down for the night, make the effort to turn off your electronics, and ensure that you spend at least 2 hours without any of those stimuli when you go to bed. Bright light has a significant impact on your circadian rhythm, so dimming your screens or using blue light filters can be profoundly beneficial.

 

2. During Travel

Eat Light and Stay Hydrated

Traveling across time zones often causes stomach issues, making it harder to maintain regularity. Eating light, fiber-rich meals and drinking lots of water should be your top priorities. The CDC recommends drinking 8 cups (2 liters) of water per day. Additionally, wane off alcohol, as its effects on your hydration levels will be felt much more strongly if you’re in the midst of traveling. While caffeine can help you stay awake and align with the new time zone, be cautious about the quantities you consume and make sure to avoid it as you get closer to bedtime.

Sync with Your Destination's Time Zone

Try to align your activities, especially sleeping and eating, with the time zone of your destination while you’re in transit. This can help your body adjust more quickly upon arrival.

Invest in Quality Sleep Aids

A good sleep mask can block out unwanted light on the plane, helping you get some rest when the plane lights are still on. 

Additionally, if you find it difficult to sleep on planes, consider using melatonin. A Cochrane Library Review, compiling hundreds of studies from official databases and trials registers, suggests that melatonin supplements ranging from 0.5 mg to 5 mg can help you fall asleep and improve sleep quality while traveling. Our DEEPS Super Sleep Patch is the perfect candidate for this, as it delivers melatonin along with other relaxing ingredients like Ashwagandha (4.5 mg) and L-Theanine (1 mg) to help you achieve and maintain restful sleep without worrying about side effects like grogginess or headaches.

 

3. After Arrival

Take a Short Nap

If you're feeling exhausted after your flight, take a short nap (no longer than 15-20 minutes) in the early afternoon. This can help alleviate tiredness without interfering with your nighttime sleep.

Stick to Local Routines

From the moment you arrive, try to adapt to the local routines. Eat meals and go to bed according to the local time, as this can help your body adjust more quickly. For more information on how to optimize your Sunlight intake, you can head over to our article From Dawn to Dusk: Here’s Why Sunlight is Key to a Better Sleep Routine !

Monitor Food and Water Intake

After traveling long distances (more than 6 time zones), it's essential to stay mindful of your food and water intake for the first few days, as your stomach will still likely need some time to adjust to the different time zones as well as to local cuisines. Make sure you keep a water bottle handy at all times, and try and schedule your meals, either by preparing them before starting your daily activities or by looking into possible dining spots ahead of time.

 

Final Thoughts

Jet Lag is an unavoidable part of long-distance travel, but its effects can be minimized with a few thoughtful strategies. Whether it's adjusting your routine before you leave, managing light exposure, or staying hydrated, there are numerous ways to make your transition smoother.

By following these steps, you can enjoy your summer vacation to the fullest without being bogged down by Jet Lag. Happy travels and well-rested adventures await!

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References:

  • Herxheimer, A, and K J Petrie. “Melatonin for the prevention and treatment of jet lag.” The Cochrane database of systematic reviews ,2 (2002): CD001520. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001520
  • Jet Lag, Advice for Travelers, Travelers’ Health, “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” Website. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/jet-lag
  • Suni, Eric, Dr. Singh, Abhinav, “How to Get Over Jet Lag”, Sleep Foundation, February 22nd, 2024. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/travel-and-sleep/how-to-get-over-jet-lag
  • Newsom, Rob, Dr. Singh, Abhinav, “Blue Light: What It Is and How It Affects Sleep”, Sleep Foundation, January 12th, 2024. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/bedroom-environment/blue-light

 

Any questions or comments, drop a note to the DEEPS Blog Team on the Contact us page.

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