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The holiday season often involves traveling to reconnect with family and friends. However, traveling across multiple time zones can cause fatigue, impacting your energy levels and health. Jet lag, a common challenge for long-distance travelers, disrupts your internal clock, leading to poor sleep, daytime fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and a general feeling of being “off.”

While completely avoiding jet lag might not be possible, you can significantly reduce its effects with the right strategies.

Here are 6 tips for overcoming jet lag:

1. Gradually Adjust Your Sleep Schedule. Before your trip, start adjusting your bedtime and waking time closer to your destination's time zone. This gradual shift can help your circadian rhythm adapt more easily. Maintain this new schedule during your travels.

2. Optimize Light Exposure. Air travel can dehydrate you, worsening jet lag symptoms. Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine, as they can disturb sleep patterns.

3. Stay Hydrated. Ambient light or light from electronic sources like tv and cell phones can delay the onset of sleep and cause issues with your body’s natural cycles. Start turning off lights as you near your bedtime and try to sleep in a darkened room.

4. Move your body. Engaging in light physical activity can help reset your biological clock. However, avoid intense workouts close to bedtime which can prevent healthy sleep.

5. Consider melatonin. Allow yourself time to rest after reaching your destination. Overbooking activities can strain your cognitive functions, already impacted by jet lag.

6. Rest upon arrival. Set your alarm as close as possible to the time you need to wake up, and then get up at that time. This will help accumulate as much uninterrupted high-quality sleep as possible.

“These tips are beneficial for both adults and children,” says Dr. Janet Lazieh, with Holy Name Pediatrics. “After extensive travel, especially during the holidays, it's important to be gentle with yourself and acknowledge the need for adjustment. Following these strategies can help minimize many of the negative effects of jet lag.”

Remember to pay attention to what your body needs as it adjusts to prolonged traveling. Small measures like avoiding caffeine, sticking to a structured routine, and practicing good sleep hygiene can significantly aid recovery from jet lag.

To connect with an internal medicine physician, visit holyname.org/physician.

For personalized advice or questions about pediatric concerns, contact Dr. Janet Lazieh at (201) 592-9210.