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Avoiding Jetlag

Have you ever found yourself wide-awake at 3 in the morning while on vacation due to horrible jetlag?  Unfortunately, we have all been there, but that’s about to change!  Today, Doctor on Demand, with the help of Dr. Aditi Joshi and Dr. Tania Elliot, brings you a few easy steps that will help you adjust to a new time zone with ease. 

Before Travel

1. Maximize your sleep: Dr. Elliott recommends getting adequate shut eye the week before you travel to prevent the accumulation of sleep debt – nobody should start a busy vacation already exhausted.

2. Adjust your schedule:  Changing your clock one hour toward your destination time zone daily and going to bed at this new time may help reduce the effect of jetlag upon arrival, says Dr. Joshi.  She also says that eating meals at this adjusted time may help create a shift in your body’s internal clock.


In flight

1. Stay hydrated, avoid alcohol and caffeine: While water will help with comfort and sleep in the air, alcohol and caffeine will disrupt and reduce the quality of your slumber.

2. Continue to adjust: While in flight, try to continue sleeping in accordance with your destination time zone to reduce the time shock upon arrival.


On arrival

1. Eat & sleep at destination time: Eating meals at normal times and sleeping at night once you reach your destination will help you adjust much more rapidly, says Dr. Elliott.

2. Take short naps:  Immediately upon arrival, you may require extra sleep due to the exhaustion of traveling – this is fine for the first 1-2 days.  After that, Dr. Elliott recommends short daytime naps as they can give you a boost of energy without affecting your night’s sleep.  However, avoid longer naps if you plan on going to bed at a reasonable hour.

3. Take advantage of the light:  Natural exposure to light and dark will help realign your circadian rhythm and your internal clock to fit the time at your destination.  Make sure that you are exercising and sightseeing during daylight hours to remind your body that it should be awake at this time.

4. Use Melatonin if necessary: If you are traveling westward and need help sleeping, Dr. Elliott suggests using 5 mg of Melatonin for up to 4 nights after arrival.  Make sure to check with a doctor before you consider using other medications to assist with sleep.