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How to Beat Jet Lag

A few simple habits can help you stay well-rested while you travel. 

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You can reset your clock with some well-timed bright light.

We all have internal clocks that tell us when to sleep and when to get moving. But if a plane zips you to a far-off time zone, that clock may not be in sync with the local time, leaving you drowsy and disoriented.

“Every day of vacation is precious,” says Robert Sack, a psychiatrist and sleep disorders specialist at Oregon Health Science University. “You don’t want jet lag getting in the way.”

Sack advises resetting your clock with some well-timed bright light. After traveling eastward, try going outside in the morning. After a long westward trip, light in the early evening—either outside or in a bright room—can keep you alert until bedtime.

Sack says melatonin supplements can help, too. After eastward travel, try taking a three-milligram dose at bedtime. After a westward flight, consider taking a low dose (half a milligram or less) if you wake up during the night.

This article was first published in September 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.