Resetting your sleep cycle at home is simple and straightforward. Resetting it when you travel halfway around the world, on the other hand, is difficult. Jet lag is a major annoyance for any round-the-world traveller that can seem impossible to avoid.
Jet lag is a combination of two inconvenient factors. The first is that you’ve spent a huge amount of time in an uncomfortable airplane seat in which background noise makes sleeping difficult. The second is that you’re out of sync with your new time zone, making it almost impossible to fall asleep at a ‘normal’ local time.
Avoiding jet lag means compensating for these two factors by doing two things. The first is making the most of your journey by adjusting your sleep habits while you fly, and the second is adjusting your sleep schedule before you start travelling.
Use the same strategy as you’d use to adjust your sleep schedule at home by going to sleep one hour earlier – or, if you’re flying to a time zone that’s behind your current destination, one hour later – for several days before your flight.
This makes it easier for you to slip into your destination’s time zone once you board the plane and start travelling. If you’re travelling to a time zone that’s more than six hours out of sync with your own, don’t adjust fully – instead, try to get as close to the destination’s time zone as you realistically can.
If you arrive at your destination feeling tired, make sure you avoid sleeping earlier than you should. Your first night’s sleep habits will make it easier for you to adjust to your destination, so don’t be afraid to use caffeine strategically if it helps you to stay awake until your normal bedtime.