If you’re planning a trip to Europe this summer, here are some tips to help you reduce the effects of jetlag.
Jetlag is usually the most intense when travelling from west to east and across at least four to six time zones, which is a typical flight from Quebec to Europe. The effects are usually milder on the way back, because then we are “gaining” a few hours, whereas on the way east, we “lose” those hours.
In order to reduce the effects of the time difference, start going to bed earlier at least four days before departure. For example, if you usually go to bed around 11 p.m., go to bed a half-hour or an hour earlier each day (10:30, then 10:00, then 9:30, and so on). If possible, also start eating your meals earlier.
The day of your trip, set your watch to the destination local time as soon as you board the plane, and try to get some sleep. Don’t take sleep aids, because they actually worsen the effects of jetlag. They also induce deep sleep, which could prevent you from reacting quickly in case of an emergency.
Once you arrive at your destination, don’t take a nap! Instead, head outdoors and try to soak up as much sunshine as possible. Intense sunshine helps the body adjust to local time. Eat light meals and go to bed as close to your usual bedtime as possible.
Thinking of using melatonin? Although not many quality studies have shown that it can reduce jetlag, it does not pose much risk to healthy individuals. Persons who are taking medication, however, should speak to their pharmacist or doctor before taking this supplement, to make sure that it won’t interact with their prescribed treatment.
If you do take melatonin, start taking it four to five days before your trip. Take the supplement at your destination bedtime (e.g. if there is a six-hour time difference between your destination and Quebec time, take the melatonin at 5 p.m. here, for a bedtime of 11 p.m. in Europe).
Have a great trip!