How To Beat Jet Lag: Apps, Hacks, Pills : Shots

Tips to overcome jet lag

Mikkel William/Getty Images

Tips to overcome jet lag

Mikkel William/Getty Images

If you’re planning a trip in the last few weeks of summer, you’ll want to make the most of your vacation. Anything that can ruin a trip to the Louvre or his scuba diving trip is enough to tell your body it’s time to go to bed. So, can we “hack” jet lag, so to speak? Or at least mitigate?

We posed our questions to NPR’s International Desk and received a variety of helpful responses from our globe-trotting staff.

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For example, NPR producer Greg Dixon is passionate about a jet lag app called Time Shifter. “You enter your travel schedule and it outputs a plan for the days before and after your flight, advising you when to avoid or avoid natural light, drink coffee, take melatonin, etc.” writes Greg. “It really, really worked.”

There is limited research on jet lag, mostly on athletes who, like NPR journalists, are expected to fly across time zones. and best performance.Recent Consensus Statements to Help Athletes Manage Jet Lag and Travel Fatigue Published in Journal sports medicinethere are few guiding principles.

Physiologist David Stevens of Adelaide, Australia, who works at the Center for Sleep Research at Flinders University and co-authored the statement, explains in detail. First, you need to understand your body’s circadian rhythm, the internal clock that tells you when to go to sleep and when to wake up.

Then you can take advantage of what sleep researchers call sleep. Zeitgeber Or something that gives time, that is, an external factor that sets the pace of these rhythms. Light is most important, but exercise, diet, and even social cues can also cause drowsiness and alertness.

get off to a head start

Whether you use the app or not, Stevens suggests starting to adjust your timezone a few days before your trip begins. “One of the best strategies he has for preparing for a trip out west is to go to bed, say, an hour later each night,” Stevens says. And try to go to bed an hour late every morning.

Managing jet lag involves paying attention to light intake and other cues to synchronize your body clock to a new time zone.

Jenny Kane/AP

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Jenny Kane/AP

Managing jet lag involves paying attention to light intake and other cues to synchronize your body clock to a new time zone.

Jenny Kane/AP

Heading east, things get even tougher. “It’s tough from west to east. From Washington to Tokyo, for example, it usually takes 10 days to adapt,” wrote NPR’s Asia editor-in-chief Vincent Nee.

Stevens says there’s a simple explanation for this. Body clocks are relatively easy to understand, as going to bed later than usual, such as when traveling west, can make you more tired in the evening. “I’m going crazy, wait a minute, you should be asleep by now, why aren’t you?” he says.

But when traveling east, Stevens says, you need to try to sleep when you’re not already tired, and that’s just… confusing your circadian clock. “My body is moving, wait a minute, I’m not going to sleep yet. What are you doing?” One, he added, was around 7 p.m.

So in those cases, Stevens says, a few days before your trip, go to bed earlier than usual and get up early to get plenty of morning light.

In-flight sleep tips and aids

Stevens says it’s best to sleep on board if possible, but the consensus statement says it’s best to match your sleep time with the night in the departure city so that snoozing becomes more natural. Says. So a night flight may be a good choice.

Of course, it’s next to impossible for some people to fall asleep in tight seats on an airplane (unless they upgrade to business class). But NPR’s Vincent Nee has a science-based shuteye on board. He “fills a rucksack with a firm, soft material, puts it on a tray (in economy class) and puts his forehead on it. The important things for me are the eyeshades and the ears,” he said. ”

Now, as would be expected for a group of well-traveled foreign correspondents, several International Desk members reported using substances not naturally occurring in their bodies.

“If you want to sleep on the plane (it’s not super early and I’m not too bad), a glass or two of wine will help you sleep!” says Beirut-based correspondent Ruth Sherlock. writing. Some said they were taking prescription sedatives like Zolpidem (Ambian) to nod.

Stevens recommends not using prescription sedatives because “it’s not really physiological sleep,” which can lead to dependence.

When it comes to alcohol, Stevens simply says no. – Sleep may be disturbed. He confesses on his recent trip to London, “I might have had a drink as soon as I landed, but it was about 4pm,” but in other words, six full hours of bedtime. Before.

After Landing: Manage Light Intake

It shouldn’t be a surprise if falling asleep before the sun sets doesn’t work, Stevens says. Because light is the most important thing. Zeitgeber Or someone who gives time. “When light hits the retina, the signal travels through the brain to the hypothalamus, which controls melatonin secretion,” Stevens said. It’s melatonin that makes you feel sleepy, but its release doesn’t start until the end of the day when it starts to get dark.

Conversely, exposure to sunlight early in the day is a great way to sync your circadian clock to your new schedule. “To help my body acclimate faster, I usually spend more time outdoors in the sun if possible (during the warmer months) and indoor sunshine (during the colder months). The water reminds the body of a new environment and surroundings, to trigger the production of melatonin,” writes Central Europe correspondent Rob Schmitz.

Taking a melatonin tablet before bed and getting some sunlight can also be a great way to adjust to a new time zone, Stevens says. Remember to turn off the blue light on your phone as well.

sleeping, eating, exercising

Both NPR’s deputy international editor Nishant Dahiya and China correspondent Jon Lewich have vowed to stay up until 9 p.m. They say it’s a good rule of thumb.

In response to my anxious wish, “Are naps allowed?!” Stevens says they can be beneficial. “A nap gives you that little extra energy boost you need to keep going for a few more hours.” He recommends limiting nap time to 20 minutes.

Dahiya also relies on “drinking three or more cups of espresso the next morning” to overcome insomnia. Stevens warns that if you do consume caffeine, make sure you do so at least six hours before you plan to eat hay.

Stephens recommends taking advantage of other things than chemical help. Zeitgeber – Food intake, exercise, temperature changes, etc. to adapt to different time zones. “Every cell in our body also seems to follow a circadian pattern,” he says. For example, a new time zone could be a circadian cue: “If you exercise at certain times of the day, you move when you exercise,” he said. The same goes for staggering mealtimes.

“My favorite sleep aid is a walk,” Stevens says. “Even if it’s for an hour, even if it’s at night, going for a walk and getting some fresh air clears my mind,” he says.

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