One of the most bothersome parts of the international travel is having to deal with jet lag. The further you fly away from the United States, the more time zones you cross, the worse it gets. Flying to anywhere in Asia or Australia can usher in the worst jet lag possible. 12 noon in New York is 1 am in Tokyo. For years I have used a relatively simple technique that allows me to hit the ground running on local time when traveling to areas that involve more than five hours in time zone difference. My “time zone acclimation system” is relatively simple and is based on how much change your body’s circadian rhythm can easily handle. That change amounts to a one hour change every twenty-four hours. That’s why passengers on transatlantic ships don’t suffer from jet lag. Each night of the voyage they set the clocks ahead an hour, allowing them to naturally adjust to the time difference. By the time they get to London, they’re acclimated to the local time. My system simply mimics what happens on the ship but accomplishes it before you depart for your overseas destination. So, if I’m traveling to London from New York, for example, that is a five-hour time change. My technique is to adjust my sleep schedule by one hour each night. 11 pm in New York is 4 am in London, so for five nights I adjust my sleep schedule back one hour each night, waking up one hour earlier. Five days before my flight I go to sleep at 10 pm (instead of 11pm) and wake up an hour earlier at 5 am (instead of 6 am). The following night I go to sleep at 9 pm and wake up at 4 am, and so on. You do that for five nights, so that the day you’re traveling to London you’re already on local time. When you board your flight to London at 7 pm, your body thinks it is midnight, and you can go right to sleep. Five hours later you’ll arrive in London fully rested and ready to go, instead of wrung out and ready for bed early in the afternoon. As they say, “yard by yard it’s very hard, but inch by inch and it’s a cinch.” Try adjusting your time zones an hour at a time, inch by inch, and you’ll be surprised how you can avoid getting any jet lag.
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