They state that,
Basically, our bodies work on a 24-hour cycle called "circadian rhythms." These rhythms are measured by the distinct rise and fall of body temperature, plasma levels of certain hormones and other biological conditions. All of these are influenced by our exposure to sunlight and help determine when we sleep and when we wake.
When traveling to a new time zone, our circadian rhythms are slow to adjust and remain on their original biological schedule for several days. This results in our bodies telling us it is time to sleep, when it's actually the middle of the afternoon, or it makes us want to stay awake when it is late at night. This experience is known as jet lag.
Prepare your body for the new time zone by adjusting your schedule an hour or two earlier -- or later -- in the days just before the trip.
Step 2: Eat healthy
About four days before your trip, consume less fat, salt, caffeine, and sugar, and more fresh fruits and vegetables. Travelers on a typical American diet -- protein-heavy breakfasts, high-carb dinners -- tend to have a harder time sleeping at their destinations.
Step 3: Go west
If at all possible, try to fly west instead of east. It’s easier for the body to extend the day than to shorten it, so traveling west is easier to adjust to.
Step 4: Set your watch
Set your watch as soon as you board the plane for your destination’s time zone. Try to pretend that it is already that time and act accordingly--if it’s the middle of the night in your destination, try to fall asleep as soon as possible.
Step 5: Dress comfortably
Wear comfortable clothing on the plane. Tight clothing will reduce circulation and cause discomfort, interfering with your ability to sleep.
Step 6: Don't consume caffeine or alcohol
Don’t consume any caffeine or alcohol in flight. They’ll just dehydrate you and disrupt your sleep patterns. Drink lots of water instead.
Get up at least once every two hours to walk around. This will improve your circulation and reduce muscle stiffness.
Step 7: Wear sunglasses
Wear sunglasses during the last few hours of an overnight flight and for the first several hours after getting off the plane. Researchers have found that this helps people adjust their body clocks by altering their light patterns.
Step 8: Don’t nap
Resist the urge to nap upon arrival. Instead, try to get some exercise and some exposure to sunlight to stave off sleep until your normal bedtime. (This blogger suggests meditating in the sun)
- Select a flight that allows early evening arrival and stay up until 10 p.m. local time. (If you must sleep during the day, take a short nap in the early afternoon, but no longer than two hours. Set an alarm to be sure not to over sleep.)
- Anticipate the time change for trips by getting up and going to bed earlier several days prior to an eastward trip and later for a westward trip.
- Upon boarding the plane, change your watch to the destination time zone.
- Avoid alcohol or caffeine at least three to four hours before bedtime. Both act as "stimulants" and prevent sleep.
- Upon arrival at a destination, avoid heavy meals (a snack—not chocolate—is okay).
- Avoid any heavy exercise close to bedtime. (Light exercise earlier in the day is fine.)
- Bring earplugs and blindfolds to help dampen noise and block out unwanted light while sleeping.
- Try to get outside in the sunlight whenever possible. Daylight is a powerful stimulant for regulating the biological clock. (Staying indoors worsens jet lag.)
- Contrary to popular belief, the type of foods we eat have no effect on minimizing jet lag.
- According to experts, stress or the potential for stress is another problem that can lead to sleeplessness. Two common travel related stress conditions are the "First Night Effect" and the "On-Call Effect." The first condition occurs when trying to sleep in a new or unfamiliar environment. The second is caused by the nagging worry that something just might wake you up, such as the possibility of a phone ringing, hallway noise or another disruption.
It is intriguing that 3 of the behavioral adjustments from the Sleep Foundation address ingesting specific foods and drinks, yet another idea they put forward is that the foods we eat have no effect on jet lag.
The reason I put forward information from two different organizations becomes evident as we look at the suggestions from each. There is still a great deal to be learned about jet lag, it's preventatives, and mechanisms for coping with it's impacts.
We will continue to search for articles on the impacts of light on the pineal gland, sleep, and on jet lag. Although there appears to be a good deal of junk science addressing the topic, there is also a good deal of real, accessible, verifiable data on the subject. Here's a scholarly article with a quick link to a consensus report on light treatments for sleep disorders from the Journal of Biological Rhythms.
We'd love to know what you do to address jet lag and how exposure to SAD lights or the hypnagogic light impact you, your sleep cycles, and your moods.