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  • Writer's pictureAnne McCormick

How to Beat Jet Lag

I just flew back to Bali this past weekend (!!!), and I am so excited to see old friends and show new friends around this beautiful island I’ve come to call home. Bali is a long flight (actually, series of flights) from Calgary. Jet lag isn’t something I typically struggle with on the way to Bali. I think it's because I’m so excited and distracted, I naturally lock into the rhythm of my new time zone. However, I’ve had a lot of questions about jet lag and how to handle it, and I’ve certainly experienced it on the way home when I’m heading back to “real life”.

Jet lag is caused by travelling over many time zones in a short period of time. When you think about it, our bodies were never designed to be shot over long distances so quickly, and so we end up feeling out of balance with time and space. Jet lag can show up as fatigue during the day, insomnia at night, stomach problems, and for some, mood changes. What can you do about it? Here are some tips, including my own.

1. Sleep at appropriate times. I have been guilty in the past for arriving in Bali and passing out reading a book in bed. Generally I’ve been lucky, waking up the next morning after a veeeery long sleep. However, this is playing with fire as you can also wake up in the middle of the night, ready to go. Unless you’re ill, it’s much better to wait until night to sleep.

2. Get excited. As I mentioned above, I don’t struggle with jet lag on my way to my exciting destination, and I’ve heard this is quite common. When you touch down, lock into local time, and instead of lying in bed, go find a meal, drink lots of water, go on a mini outing, and plan the next day. If your focus is on how great life is right now, jet lag might just take care of itself.

3. Use the sun to your advantage. Sunlight hugely influences your sleep rhythm. Many airlines, especially ones that travel over multiple time zones, have integrated this into their services with lowlights and bright lights that mimic the rising and setting of the sun. When in doubt, follow their cue as you travel over the ocean. When the “sun” goes down, try to sleep. If you’re not good at sleeping on planes, use the time to take it down a notch. Turn off your TV and close your eyes. Listen to peaceful music and relax.

4. Prepare in advance! There are many ways you can limit the effects of jet lag. First, get a lot of rest before your flight. Go to sleep at a reasonable time, and avoid excess caffeine if you can. Some people even go to bed one hour later than usual (if they’re flying west) for a few nights before they leave, to make up some of the difference. Set your clock to the local time you’ll be travelling to when you get to the airport.

I find these strategies are useful for me! Do you have any tricks for beating the jet lag monster? Share with us!

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