Trips that involve crossing several time zones interrupt our biological clocks. Making simple changes to your behavior can help with this transition.
The circadian rhythm is a type of internal clock in the body that tells us when to go to sleep and when to wake up. This is affected when there are sudden changes in the environment, for example, travel that involves a significant time change.
Depending on the individual, the body may take from a few days up to a few weeks to adapt to a new location. During this process, the body experiences disturbances that prevent it from functioning at 100%, such as daytime fatigue, headaches and insomnia, among others. To minimize the time it takes to adapt, the U.S. National Library of Medicine offers the following recommendations:
Before your trip:
- Get plenty of rest, eat a healthy diet, and get some exercise.
- Consider going to bed earlier for a couple of nights before leaving if you are traveling east. Go to bed later for a couple of nights if you are traveling west.
While in flight:
- Try not to sleep unless it matches the bedtime of your destination.
- During layovers, get some rest.
- Drink plenty of water, but avoid caffeine, alcohol and heavy meals.
When you arrive:
- For short trips, try to eat and sleep at your usual times.
- For longer trips, try to adapt to the time schedule of your destination, even before you leave.
- Give yourself a few days of rest to adapt.
- Spend time in the sun, this can help reset your internal clock.