Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night completely convinced that you missed your bus to school? Flustered and tired, you begin your morning routine, slightly rushed this time. You brush your teeth, wash your face, and put on an outfit for the day. Just as you go to grab your bag and head out the door, you glance at the clock on the wall and finally realize that it is the middle of the night. “Sweet,” you think to yourself, “now I can go back to bed!”
Well, I hate to be the one to break the news, but a change in time zone is a lot like starting your morning routine four hours early, except worse- this time you can’t fall back to sleep. Although this may sound like a dramatization, jet lag is real my friends. And if my 4 am warnings aren’t enough to convince you otherwise, perhaps this brief scientific explanation will do the trick:
To get a little technical here, a change in time zone causes a direct disruption to one’s circadian rhythm, the individual and internal regulation process responsible for maintaining one’s sleep-wake cycle per every 24 hours. But don’t panic yet; I have good news for you! By reading this blog alone, you are already 100% more prepared to handle jet lag than I was in your position. Check out these five hacks for re-syncing your circadian rhythm and making the most of your study abroad experience, courtesy of yours truly!
FIVE TIPS FOR AVOIDING JET LAG
1. Drink loads of water.
You’ve heard it before, kids. Drink more water. Not only is water great for your skin, great for hydration, and great for preventing kidney stones (yes, you read that right), but according to Joe Leech, a nutritionist from Healthline.com, drinking water has a major impact on energy levels and brain functionality. Drinking water will boost productivity and kick our circadian rhythm back into gear! (https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-health-benefits-of-water#section5)
2. Settle into a routine as soon as possible
While study abroad should be a time for rest and relaxation, despite popular belief, it is more than just a three-month vacation in an exotic place. It is extremely important to discover a routine and to stick to it. Whether you use your free time for meditation, organized sports or a daily meet ups with your new friends, be sure to create a schedule for everything that you do, including sleep! Maintaining a schedule will enable your circadian rhythm to recognize patterns and will cause for a quicker adjustment.
3. Avoid electronics at night.
Take it from me- British Netflix is far superior than American Netflix. One episode of Brooklyn 99 before bed will quickly turn into one season of Brooklyn 99 before bed. Do yourself the favor and avoid all electronics at least half an hour before your bedtime.
4. Take morning showers instead of night showers.
Although this may sound silly, the change of temperatures before and after a shower have a vital impact on our circadian rhythm and can make it much harder to fall asleep before bed. Try a morning shower to leave you feeling refreshed and ready for a new day!
5. Eat breakfast.
The typical Generation Z’s response of “Oh, I don’t eat breakfast,” is not acceptable, especially when correcting jet lag. Eating breakfast is essential to fueling our body and mind, maintaining healthy weight, and most importantly, signaling to our circadian rhythm the start of a new 24-hour period. After all, it’s called the most important meal of the day for a reason my friends!