best way to avoid jet lag flying west

Hey there, fellow traveler! 🌟 Jet lag is a familiar foe for anyone who’s crossed time zones. But fear not, because we’ve got your back with a comprehensive guide to help you conquer jet lag when you’re heading west. 🌅


Understanding Your Circadian Rhythm

Before we dive into the tips and tricks, let’s get to know your body’s inner clock.

🕰️ Nature of the Circadian Rhythm

  • Your body’s daily schedule keeper lives in your brain – it’s called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN).
  • This internal clock loves to dance with light. It helps control when you feel sleepy or awake.

Circadian Rhythm and Westward Travel

  • When you fly west, you’re extending your day. And guess what? Your body kinda likes that.
  • It’s easier for your internal clock to adapt to a longer day (delay phase shift) than a shorter one. That’s why jet lag is usually milder when you go west.

🤔 Considerations for Westward Travel

  • Gradual Adjustment: Ease into your new time zone by staying up and waking up a bit later before your trip.
  • Light Exposure: On the day of your journey and upon arrival, soak up that natural light in the late afternoon and evening. It helps your body sync up.

🌙 Melatonin Management

  • The hormone melatonin plays a big role in your sleep-wake cycle.
  • Some folks use melatonin supplements (with a doc’s guidance) to help them adjust faster.


Pre-Flight Prep

Let’s prep like a pro to make that transition smoother.

🌗 Gradually Adjust Your Sleep Schedule

  • Start early: Tweak your sleep pattern a few days before your trip, shifting your bedtime and wake-up time later each day.
  • Stay consistent: Keep that new schedule going until you board your flight.

💧 Stay Hydrated

  • Pre-flight hydration: Start drinking more water a few days ahead. It’s like a secret weapon against jet lag.
  • In-flight hydration: Air travel can be dehydrating. Keep sipping on that H2O.

🍽️ Eat Lightly

  • Choose meals that are easy on your tummy in the days leading up to your flight.
  • Try to eat in sync with your destination’s meal times.


Strategies During the Flight

In-flight time is precious when it comes to beating jet lag. Let’s make the most of it.

☀️ Choose Daytime Flights

  • Morning flights are your friends. They align with daylight hours, helping your body adjust gradually.

🏃‍♀️ Stay Active on the Plane

  • Stretch your legs with short walks every hour or so.
  • Do some in-seat exercises to keep that blood flowing.

💡 Control Light Exposure

  • Adjust those window shades to match your destination’s light patterns.
  • Dim the cabin lights if it’s nighttime where you’re headed.

Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine

  • Swap out alcoholic and caffeinated drinks for water, herbal tea, or electrolyte-replenishing options.
  • Alcohol and caffeine can mess with your sleep, and dehydration is not your friend.


Post-Flight Adjustment

You’ve touched down in your new time zone, and now it’s time to make the final adjustments.

🌞 Sync with Local Time Immediately

  • The golden rule: Match your activities with the local time right away.
  • If it’s daytime, stay awake. If it’s nighttime, try to sleep, even if you’re not feeling too tired.

🌅 Avoid Long Daytime Naps

  • Resisting the urge for a long nap during the day can speed up your adjustment.
  • If you must nap, keep it short (around 20-30 minutes) to recharge without interfering with nighttime sleep.

☀️ Get Sunlight Exposure

  • Nature’s alarm clock: Sunlight! It’s a powerful cue for your internal clock.
  • Aim to catch some rays in the morning and afternoon, which can help reduce jet lag symptoms.

😴 Take Short Naps if Necessary

  • Power naps are your pals. A quick nap (20-30 minutes) can give you a boost without messing up your night’s sleep.
  • Set an alarm to avoid oversleeping.

🍽️ Maintain a Healthy Diet

  • Eat according to local meal times. Skipping meals or eating at odd hours can mess with your body’s internal clock.
  • Opt for balanced and nutritious meals, including proteins, fruits, veggies, and whole grains.

💊 Consider Melatonin

  • Consult a healthcare pro before diving into melatonin supplements, especially if you have health conditions or are taking other meds.
  • If they give the green light, use melatonin as directed to help regulate your sleep.

🧘 Practice Relaxation Techniques

  • Unwind your mind: Meditation and gentle yoga can help you relax and de-stress.
  • Breathing exercises are another great tool for finding calm in the chaos of jet lag.


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