Ever feel out of sorts for day or two after flying across the country? You’re not imagining it. Studies have shown that jet lag is in fact the body’s natural response to the unnatural process of travelling across time zones in a short period. Our circadian rhythm–the same internal clock mechanism that tells birds when to sing–is knocked out of sync by our irregular exposure to daylight. We humans are able to cope better with jet lag if we work smartly with our surroundings. This comes as a relief to those who don’t wish to start their vacation feeling lethargic for trying to find energy with ill-advised over-the-counter remedies. The key is to control our sleep so we feel “normal” again is by hacking the system that regulates it: Spending the day outside on arrival is a great way to force our body to acknowledge the new time zone, as exposure to the sun communicates the change in conditions to our body clock.
When it does come time to hit the hotel room for some sleep, it is important that that sleep is both good quality and well thought-out. This means taking familiar steps such as relaxation exercises and cutting out distractions to ensure a good night’s sleep (at least four hours to anchor you in your new routine), but it also means avoiding daytime naps of more than 20 minutes at a time. It’s great to top up your daily sleep total with powernaps, but not for so long that they ruin the night ahead’s sleep–or keep you out of the daylight for too long.
For a host of other natural ways to ease your body into its new surroundings, check out Expedia.ca’s guide to natural jet lag-busting techniques to ease your mind, body and soul into your vacation.
This article has been reposted with permission from Expedia.ca.