If you snooze you lose…on a trip

Choosing a travel destination and mapping out the sites can be exciting. But arriving with jet lag can certainly put a damper on the fun.

Jet lag is caused by an imbalance in the body’s natural biological clock that occurs when you travel to different time zones. The body operates on a 24-hour cycle called the circadian rhythm. Travel across time zones throws these rhythms out of balance and it generally takes a few days to adjust.

While you cannot completely avoid jet lag, the techniques below will help you minimize the effects of this common sleep disorder so you can get on with your trip.


* Whenever possible, book a flight that arrives in the early evening, and then remain awake until at least 10 p.m. local time.

* If you’re traveling eastward, get up early and go to bed earlier several days prior to your trip. If you’re traveling westward, simply do the opposite.

* Avoid alcohol and caffeine at least three to four hours prior to bedtime.

* Upon arrival, choose healthy snacks instead of heavy meals.

* Spend time in the sunlight whenever possible since daylight is a power stimulant for regulating the biological clock.

* Make sure your sleep when you arrive is as restful as possible. Try using earplugs to dampen noise and a blindfold to block unwanted light while sleeping in a new location.

* Just keep moving during the daytime. Too many naps make it hard for the body to adjust.

Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus and in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Schedule an appointment online today.