Jet lag is a common sleep disorder. It affects those who travel both frequently and infrequently. We spoke to Amy Korn-Reavis, R.R.T., R.S.T., a registered respiratory therapist and sleep technologist in Orlando, for one approach to the medical problems you or your loved one may suffer from when trying to sleep.
If you think you might have jet lag, use this as a reference point before getting personalized medical advice from your doctor or other accredited sleep expert. --Wendy Gould
Jet lag is a circadian rhythm disorder, or a disorder that affects the body's internal clock. Travelers passing through two or more time zones often experience jet leg, but it can also affect those traveling through just one or two. It occurs because our location has changed clocks but our body hasn't, says Korn-Reavis.
Plan AheadAdjust your sleeping schedule a few days ahead of your travel date, if possible. By anticipating your new location's clock, your body will have more time to adjust and you won't suffer from jet lag, explains Korn-Reavis.
Avoid Heavy Eating And DrinkingEating or drinking heavily will interfere with your ability to sleep. Korn-Reavis advises that you eat regular meals in appropriate portion sizes, but avoid binging prior to and during your trip if you don't want to suffer from jet lag.
Use A Light Therapy BoxIf you're traveling a great distance and need to be alert shortly after arrival, invest in a tool like a light therapy box, advises Korn-Reavis. It helps combat jet lag. Use the box for 20 to 40 minutes either in the evening or in the morning, depending on whether you want to delay or advance your sleeping time.
Exercise Prior To And During Your TripExercise both energizes you and helps you sleep better at night, thus eliminating jet lag. Exercise early in the morning to invigorate your body and stay active throughout the day. Not only will you be alert in the day, but come nighttime you'll fall asleep faster and sleep harder, Korn-Reavis says.
Take NapsIf you feel sleepy once in your new location, take a brief 15- to 30-minute nap. The nap allows your body to rest and you'll experience a boost of energy once awake, negating the effects of jet lag.
Amy Korn-Reavis, R.R.T., R.S.T., is both a registered respiratory therapist and registered sleep technologist who has been in the business for over 25 years. As a board member of the American Association of Sleep Technologists and manager of Emery Sleep Solutions in Apopka, Fla., Korn-Reavis has helped many improve their sleep habits over the years.
Have you ever suffered from jet lag? What worked for you?