Tip of the Week

Dr. James B. Maas' tips on dealing with jet lag

By Dr. James B. Maas

Published December 15, 1997 8:00PM (EST)

Day One at Your Destination

  • On arrival, follow the meal pattern and sleep/wake schedules appropriate to your destination. If you've flown eastbound and it's still the middle of the night according to your biological clock yet morning according to the time at your destination, don't go to bed at the hotel for a few hours even though you're exhausted. It will only delay the necessary resetting of your internal clock. Hoteliers report that those eastbound travelers who intend to "take a short nap" because they arrive early in the morning after an all-night flight will often sleep for more than six to eight hours if not awakened by an alarm clock or call from the front desk. So much for the first day at your new location. It's far better to push yourself through that first day and fall into bed early that evening, exhausted but ready for a good night's sleep on local time.

  • If you've flown eastbound and arrive in the early morning, try to get outside in the sunlight as soon as possible. Daylight is a powerful stimulant for regulating the biological clock, and staying indoors actually worsens jet lag.

  • If you've flown westbound and it's already evening according to your biological clock yet still afternoon at your destination, spend time outdoors in the afternoon sun. It will help phase delay your biological clock, getting it in sync more quickly with local time. Remember, it's easier to adjust to a westbound time change than an eastbound change because of the circadian rhythm's tendency toward longer (25-hour) days.

  • Getting some exercise, even a brisk walk, after a long flight will raise your endorphin levels. This in turn will reduce stiffness and pain, relax your muscles, help suppress your appetite, and create feelings of optimism and happiness.

  • Business executives, government officials, and athletic teams should delay doing business or engaging in sports until the second day abroad after more than a five-hour time shift. Otherwise, mistakes will be made, negotiations will suffer, and games will be lost.

Dr. James B. Maas

MORE FROM Dr. James B. Maas

Related Topics ------------------------------------------