Chris Idzikowski, director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, is a Scottish sleep researcher who surveyed thousands of passengers on British Airways to discover the best strategies for avoiding jet lag. Here are some of his tips for avoiding jet lag.
If you're traveling east, be kinder to yourself because your body will find it more difficult to adjust to the shorter day, according to medical research. Be particularly careful with unfamiliar foods for the first day or so. Your gastrointestinal system has a biological clock that can be upset by the time change, making food processing more difficult.
Beware of melatonin pills, which offer an artificial version of a hormone that helps regulate your body clock naturally. They're not a quick fix, and they only work if you use them along with a careful exposure to light. Consult your doctor before taking this medicine, or you risk making your jet lag worse. If you use melatonin and don't feel an effect, stop taking it rather than increase the dosage. The side effects are unpredictable.
Light seems to be the best way to fight jet lag. Our eyes transmit light signals to our brains to control our body clocks. Expose yourself to light (sunlight is roughly three times as effective as standard indoor lighting). To learn how to do this,
enter information about yourself and your upcoming trip at BritishAirways.com/jetlag. An online calculator will tell you which hours to seek light and which ones to avoid it, based on Dr. Idzikowski's tips.
Get into the local time of your destination as soon as you get on the plane, eating small meals in synch with new meal times.
Avoid alcohol because it will dehydrate you and aggravate your disorientation.