News & Opinion | March 18, 2019 5:00 am

Tips for Using Science to Beat Jet Lag

Proper light exposure, staying hydrated, and exercising are all keys to better long-distance travel.

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Nobody likes to miss out on part of their long-awaited vacation due to jet lag. But traveling through multiple timezones can leave you exhausted, disoriented, and miserable. Charmane Eastman, professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and the founding director of the Biological Rhythms Research Laboratory at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, says that jet lag is “something that can ruin a vacation or plague athletes and musicians or have a businessman or woman not perform at their peak.”

So how can long-distance travelers beat this dreaded affliction?

First, learn what it is. Jet lag happens when the brain cells that regulate our circadian rhythms (or our body’s master clock) are out of sync with the time zone we are in. When that happens, you will try to do things like work, eat, or sleep at a time that conflicts with your body’s still-trailing inner clock.

“The best way to alleviate jet lag is to obtain proper light exposure, which will realign your internal circadian clock to your new time zone,” said Zeitzer, according to TIME. “In general, you want to get morning light exposure, and avoid evening light exposure when traveling eastward, and the opposite when traveling westward.”

Or, if you are willing to start your preparations early, you can gradually shift your circadian clock to the new time zone a few days before flying.

However, if you don’t have time to do that, there are other, easier tips: Stay hydrated throughout your whole trip, skip alcohol on the flight, and exercise once you land.