PHOENIX — It’s one of the most dreaded aspects of flying out of town, besides the awkward family reunions: jet lag.
While it’s long been something travelers just deal with, doctors say there is a bit of science to speeding up your recovery.
Dr. Lois Krahn is a sleep medicine specialist with Mayo Clinic and says you should resist the urge to go straight to sleep when you arrive if you’re feeling foggy, moody or have gastrointestinal issues. She says the most important trick is to sleep when the locals sleep, even if that means waiting up a while or going to sleep earlier than you feel ready for.
If you have trouble falling asleep, she recommends being active so your body will naturally be more tired, and for extra help, try a natural sleep aid like melatonin supplements.
To resist the urge to take a nap before bedtime, get outside and stay in the daylight.
"For example, if you fly to Europe, try to be out in the light during the day so your body is kind of tricked into thinking it should be awake when actually your clock is still on Arizona time,” Dr. Krahn said.
Adopting local mealtimes right away is also key to sending your brain cues that you’re in a different time zone, even if it means eating a little earlier or later than you’re used to.
Know that being dehydrated can make symptoms and recovery worse.
Finally, Dr. Krahn says if it takes more than a day to recover for every hour outside of your time zone, that may signal another health or chronic sleep problem and you should see a doctor.