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Just Say No to Jetlag

Published: February 18, 2022

Adjusting to a different time zone can be brutal. You might find yourself wide awake in the dead of night or drifting off before happy hour. As if that weren’t enough, jetlag can lead to headaches, difficulty concentrating and irregularities in your appetite. While there’s no fast, sure-fire way to send your jetlag packing, below are a handful of things you can do to help your body’s circadian rhythms sync up to the sunlight in your new location more quickly.

Get Plenty of Water

Proper hydration helps your body handle all kinds of stressors—and jetlag is no exception. Try to get plenty of water the day before you leave, and make sure to keep it coming until your jetlag symptoms subside. The average adult should consume 108 ounces of water per day (or 13.5 cups). And while your body is dealing with jetlag, it’s certainly not helpful to drink any less.

Stay Up to Watch the Sunset

Not only can sunsets be absolutely stunning (especially in Hawaii), but they can also be helpful in adjusting to a new time zone too. If possible, stay awake on the day you arrive and watch the sunset before heading to bed. Both sunrise and sunset help communicate the local time to your body—which, in turn, helps it adjust your circadian rhythm.

Pack Your Sleeping Essentials

Do you normally use white noise or earplugs to help you sleep? Or a cup of tea to help you unwind before bed? Continuing your regular nighttime routines can help communicate to your body that it’s time to call it a day. If packing a noise machine isn’t particularly realistic for you, consider downloading a white noise app (like myNoise) for your phone instead.

Send Yourself to Sleep With a Countdown

If your body is curled up in bed but your mind is still racing, it can be helpful to give yourself something simple and mundane to focus on. Try counting backwards in your head slowly and steadily, starting at 1,000. Picture each number as you count down. And don’t be discouraged if you get distracted. Simply return to your countdown at the last number you remember and continue on from there. The goal isn’t to reach zero (or any number for that matter), it’s simply to guide your mind away from more engaging thoughts so you can more easily fall sleep.

Don’t Try to Force It

Lying in bed wide awake for hours on end doesn’t do anyone any good. If, despite your best efforts, arriving at dreamland doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a reality, that’s okay. Allow yourself to get up and do something relaxing, like taking a walk around the courtyard or reading a book. Try to avoid looking at screens (like your phone or laptop) since the artificial light they supply can sometimes trick your brain into thinking that it’s daytime. And wait until you’re feeling tired enough to fall asleep before heading back to bed.

A good night’s sleep can help you get the most out of any trip. And while jetlag—with its fatigue, headaches and insomnia—can be incredibly inconvenient, there are a few things you can do to help your body mitigate it. It’s also important to remember that, no matter how frustrating it can be, jetlag won’t last forever.

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