When you travel across time zones, your body can feel the negative effects of jet lag. If you already suffer from a sleep disorder, jet lag can make it worse and even add other nasty side effects as well. Let’s take a closer look at jet lag and the ways to manage travel so that you can stay healthy.
What is Jet Lag?
Jet lag is the term we use for the symptoms of traveling across time zones. When your body expects to go to bed at 9 pm and wake up at 6 am, then changing time zones will also change the body’s internal clock (your circadian rhythm). Waking up earlier or going to bed later makes you sluggish, moody, and even a little nauseous (https://www.mayoclinic.org)
Although it’s not truly jet lag, you may feel similar symptoms from any kind of travel that must be planned. This is because of the anxiety and stress that go into making such plans. It’s a normal biological reaction connected to our fight or flight reflex that controls our adrenaline. So, even if you aren’t traveling across timezones, the following information could be useful.
Whenever your body undergoes stress, it’s important to stay hydrated. Cabin pressure on flights has lower humidity than normal so you may feel more dehydrated than usual. Also, whether traveling by plane, train, or automobile, we often avoid drinking because we don’t want to have to use the bathroom. When you get to your destination, make sure you drink lots of water to compensate for your travels.
By making small changes before you leave, you can start the shift to your new timezone early and your body will feel less jet lag when you get to your final destination. How do you do that? Well, you start by going to bed and getting up a little later or earlier depending on the new timezone. Also, change your meal times so that you can sleep well during the new nighttime
Sleep on the plane
This one is a little controversial as some people say it can stop you from sleeping when you get to your final destination. Think your schedule through – are you traveling when it is nighttime at your destination? Then, definitely sleep if you can! Are you missing sleep because you have to get up early to catch a flight? Then, calculate the time you’re missing and allow yourself that much sleep on the plane.
Control the sunlight
Sunlight is what causes our circadian rhythm. If it’s light outside, our body knows it’s time to be awake. So, if you are adjusting your schedule, make sure you get sunlight at the right times and pull the shades closed when you need to sleep.
Avoid sleeping pills
Sleeping pills will only prolong the effects of jet lag.
Stay awake until bedtime at your final destination
Once you arrive at your destination, stay awake until it is a reasonable time to go to bed. In other words, if you leave Florida for California, don’t go to bed at 9 pm Florida time, stay awake until 9 pm California time.
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