How do I change my sleep routine

The right sleep rhythm

Sleep rhythm and jet lag

On long-distance trips, the sleep rhythm can get messed up. Many people know the result: we call it jet lag.

How badly jet lag disturbs sleep varies from person to person. Not everyone reacts in the same way to the discrepancy between the internal clock and the external clocks of brightness and darkness. Anyone who almost always sleeps well is usually hardly prone to the symptoms of jet lag. This also applies to young children, shift workers, and other people with unstructured day-night habits. People who tend to experience the peak of their performance in the evening, the so-called owls, usually have few adjustment problems when changing time zones. For anyone else, the following recommendations can help you cope better with jet lag.

Tips against jet lag

The internal clock cannot be adjusted - and consequently there is no general and reliable remedy for jet lag. However, the following tips will help to avoid or shorten the adjustment difficulties.

  • Close your eyes and through: Adjust your behavior before or after traveling according to the applicable time. So stay up until your usual bedtime when you arrive during the day. This is usually easier to implement than going to bed when you arrive at night. But it is often worth trying. After all, traveling is often exhausting - and tiring. If you arrive in the evening or early at night, it is helpful not to sleep on the plane.
  • If your everyday life allows, prepare for the time zone at the travel destination. For example, if you expect a time difference of 6 hours, you will go to bed 1 or 2 hours earlier or later, depending on whether you are ahead of your home time at the travel destination or behind.
  • If you are flying “against” the time, that is, to the west, you should not sleep on the plane if possible. When traveling to the east, on the other hand, especially if the time of landing is in the morning, sleep on the plane helps you stay awake at the travel destination until your usual sleep time. Napping at noon can help you stay awake until late at night. On the second day of travel, you should base your daily routine on the local time.
  • Alcohol is about 3 times as strong at high altitude as it is on the ground, it dries out the body and puts a strain on the organism. This also increases the symptoms of jet lag. It is therefore preferable not to drink alcohol on the plane.
  • In the dry air of the aircraft, the body needs a lot of water. It should be around 1.5 liters per 6 hours of travel. It is best to drink regularly while doing this. In this way you also avoid headaches, tension and digestive problems caused by dehydration. Also, you keep your airways moist. This reduces the risk of contracting an infectious disease on the plane.

You can find more tips on strongly fluctuating sleep times here: Sleep tips for shift workers

Melatonin is not recommended for jet lag

In many pharmacies you can buy nutritional supplements with melatonin, which are said to work against jet lag. It should be noted that melatonin is a hormone that plays a key role in sleep. Whether it actually works when taken as a dietary supplement - and does not develop any undesirable effects - has not been proven by studies. Only a specialist should decide on the use of high-dose melatonin as a drug against sleep disorders after a thorough examination and weighing up the benefits and risks.

In principle, sleeping pills should only be used very cautiously and on medical advice. This also applies to over-the-counter sledges for self-treatment.

Author: Charly Kahle

Status: 23/01/2020