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  Travelling to a different time zone can be exciting, but it often comes with the unwanted side effect of jet lag. Jet lag occurs when your body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm, is disrupted by crossing multiple time zones rapidly. This disruption can lead to symptoms like fatigue, insomnia, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. However, there are science-backed strategies to minimize the effects of jet lag and adjust more quickly to your new time zone. Here are some top tips:
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  1. Gradually Adjust Your Sleep Schedule

Start adjusting your sleep schedule a few days before your trip by going to bed and waking up an hour earlier or later each day, depending on the direction of travel. This gradual shift can help your body adapt to the new time zone more smoothly.
  1. Get Plenty of Sunlight

Exposure to natural light helps regulate your body’s internal clock. Spend time outdoors in the sunlight, especially during the morning hours, to signal to your body that it’s time to wake up. Conversely, avoid bright lights, including electronic screens, close to bedtime to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down.
  1. Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can exacerbate the symptoms of jet lag. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your flight to stay hydrated. Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption, as these can disrupt your sleep patterns and contribute to dehydration.
  1. Plan Strategic Naps

Short naps can help alleviate fatigue and boost alertness, but timing is key. Try to nap for no more than 20-30 minutes during the early afternoon to avoid interfering with your nighttime sleep schedule.
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  1. Use Melatonin Supplements

Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. Taking melatonin supplements can help reset your internal clock and improve sleep quality when travelling across time zones. Consult with a healthcare professional before using melatonin supplements to determine the appropriate dosage and timing.
  1. Stay Active

Regular exercise can help combat fatigue and improve your mood during travel. Engage in light physical activity like walking or stretching upon arrival at your destination to increase blood flow and energy levels.
  1. Stick to Local Time

Upon arrival, try to adapt to the local time as quickly as possible. Eat meals, go to bed, and wake up according to the new time zone to help synchronize your body’s internal clock with your surroundings.
  1. Consider Medication

In some cases, prescription or over-the-counter medications may be necessary to manage severe jet lag symptoms. Consult with a healthcare professional before using any medication to address jet lag, as they may have side effects or interactions with other medications.
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Final Thoughts

By following these science-backed tips, you can minimize the effects of jet lag and enjoy a smoother transition when travelling to a new time zone. Remember to listen to your body’s signals and give yourself time to adjust gradually.
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This article was first published on 17th March 2024 and updated on March 19th, 2024 at 11:08 am


Chidiogo Shalom Akaelu holds a degree in English and Literary Studies, from the University of Nigeria. She is a freelance writer, editor and founder of Loana Press, a budding online publishing outlet.

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