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Sleep Tips

How to Beat Jet Lag and Sleep Better

According to a recent AAA survey, more than one-third of Americans are planning to take a family vacation at some point this year. For anyone flying across time zones, no matter what time of year, jet lag is a common difficulty. Here are some simple things you can do to avoid feeling the negative effects of your long weekend travel:

  • Maintain a healthy sleep zone. Whenever and wherever you rest your head, ensure that your sleep zone is free of allergens, dust, dust mites and other irritants as a good first step to getting quality slumber. Start by using mattress and pillow protectors, but also consider regulating outside noises and light, if possible. When traveling by airplane, invest in some good noise-canceling headphones and a sleep mask to help drown out exterior distractions that will likely prevent you from falling asleep on those cross-country trips. And trust me, getting sleep on the plane is especially important when you’re traveling overnight or flying from western time zones to eastern time zones.
  • Consider using melatonin. According to the National Sleep Foundation, using this naturally-occurring hormone can help you fall asleep faster and reduce the number of awakenings during sleep. If you’re flying a long distance, melatonin could help you catch some much needed Zzzz. Of course, with any supplement, you should check with your doctor to determine whether it’s right for you.
  • Spray some lavender oil on your pillow. In a recent university study, researchers found that lavender oil has been shown to slow down heart rate and lower blood pressure, which puts you in a relaxed state. Traveling with young kids? An article in The Wall Street Journal cites “at least two studies funded by Johnson & Johnson that explore the use of calming aromas, including lavender, as part of a bedtime routine for infants and toddlers” aided sleep.
  • Soak up sun. Even if you’re tired after flying, especially from traveling west to east, getting some sun early in the day will help adjust your body clock. If it’s a rainy day, or going outside just isn’t an option, consider using a bright lamp to expose yourself to light early in the day. Carlos Schenck, M.D., a sleep expert at the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center, suggests that “if you fly from east to west and arrive in the afternoon, recharge by getting some late-afternoon sun, and try to stay awake until your usual bedtime back east.”
  • Stay hydrated. Perhaps one of the easiest and most important things you can do to avoid feeling the effects of jet lag is to drink plenty of water. Considering an airplane’s cabin humidity is three-times less than the normal environment, it’s common for you to experience a little dehydration while flying. The longer the flight, the more dehydrated you’ll likely be. To combat this, many experts say that a rule of thumb is to drink at least eight ounces of water for every hour in the air.

By following these tips, you can spend time fully rested and enjoying your vacation – rather than trying to battle the effects of jet lag. Good luck!

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