Travelers complain they feel tired on the first few days of a trip, even in nearby time zones. That’s normal — the rush to depart brings extra chores and an effort at work to get everything done. Add the hyper-chilled or overheated environments of most transportation facilities and your body is crying the blues.
Adjusting your body to the new time zone can be jump started prior to departure by changing your sleep and waking times to fit the destination. Reset your watch to the new time zone as soon as you enter the aircraft. Health professionals recommend avoiding stimulants like alcohol, coffee, cola and tea before bedtime, but I use a shot of cognac to put me out. Drink lots of water or juice; avoid carbonated soft drinks which insult the digestive system.
Get out in daylight on your first day. Settle in with your hosts or at the losing and hop outside for a walk. If you’re too tired and it’s warm enough, lounge around in daylight. That’s the key to resetting the body’s natural sleep-waking rhythms. Exercise helps regulate your body too.
During the journey, if you are trapped inside airports because of weather delays, layovers or connecting flights, put in a mile or two walking the terminal halls. Keep moving.
At your destination, don’t skip time under the sky just because it is overcast. The sun is still doing its work. Exposure to daylight is the main factor in adjusting your circadian pattern to the new time zone.
Another helpful practice is to replicate bedtime and waking rituals that you can maintain while traveling overnight away from home. If you stretch or meditate, do the same away from home. Bring what you need to feel comfortable. Ask the hotel to reserve a quiet room, specify non-smoking, arrange for two wake up calls in case you miss one. Bring a family talisman, a favorite small pillow, scented candle or your own cup to make the temporary environment more familiar. I bring a colorful cloth to shade the bedside lamp.
Stretching and exercise will improve your physical well being. If you can, go easy the first couple of days. Head to bed when you’re tired and sleep until you awaken naturally.
The most important tips are get out under the daylight at the destination and drink lots of purified water, unless you are certain the tap water is safe.
Read more about how to travel brilliantly in: Travel Writing: See the World, Sell the Story