Wednesday, January 7, 2009

15 Smart Ways to Beat Jet Lag (Part 2)

Here is the continuation:

6. REFRIGERATE. If you’re flying during what would be night hours at your destination, try to get some sleep on the plane. Use earplugs to eliminate noise, an eyeshade to kill the light, and turn the air-conditioning valve on high. A third cue your body uses to set its internal clock is temperature. A lower temperature lowers your body’s core temperature and signals it’s time for sleep. A higher temperature raises your body’s core temperature and signals that it’s time to wake. To keep from getting too chilled, bring along one of those silk blanket-and-pillow sets that are sold through airline and online travel catalogs.

7. AVOID AIRLINE FOOD. A fourth cue your body uses to set its internal clock is food. Since airline food is served onboard according to the time at your home base, eating it can sabotage efforts to reset your clock to the time zone to which you’re traveling.

8. CONSIDER THE MEDICAL OPTION. Short-acting sleeping pills can help you sleep through an overnight flight. They can also help you sleep during the first couple of nights at your destination. That said, keep in mind that if a sleeping pill is taken just a little later than it should be on local time, it can exacerbate the effects of jet lag. Even worse, if the drug lasts longer than the flight, you’ll arrive drowsy at your destination—that’s not good if you have to drive or negotiate local transportation home.

9. CONSIDER MELATONIN. Yes, it’s available as an over-the-counter medication and you don’t need a prescription. But since it has the ability to really mess with your brain chemicals, consult with a doctor anyway—especially if you’re taking another medication.

Studies indicate that supplemental melatonin will make you sleepy. It’s not as strong as a sleeping pill, but it directly affects your body’s internal clock and nudges it toward sleep.

Generally, sleep specialists seem to recommend that if you’re heading east, you should consider taking one 3- to 5-milligram capsule between 6:00 and 7:00 P.M. on the day you fly out. Take a second capsule after you’ve arrived at the local bedtime.

If you do take melatonin, however, think about taking a cab to your hotel and picking up a rental car at the hotel rather than the airport. You may be too drowsy to drive safely.

If you’re headed west, take a single melatonin capsule just before bed at your destination. Do not take it before your flight. Two caveats: One, because it’s not reviewed by the FDA, over-the-counter melatonin can come in vastly differing qualities. So buy a well-known brand from a company that guarantees its products. Two, the safety profile of melatonin has not been seriously investigated. It is not, experts agree, for long-term use until studies verifying its safety over the long haul have been done. So don’t think it’s something you can continue to use at home on a regular basis.

10. HAVE THE EGGS BENEDICT. A protein-rich meal the morning after you arrive will give your brain what it needs to produce neurochemicals to increase your alertness throughout t