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By Colleen Campbell

The Wright brothers and their fantastic flying machine changed everything when they gave us a way to get to faraway places faster. Instead of spending days or even weeks traveling to foreign destinations, we now hop on a plane and find ourselves halfway around the world in just hours. But faster travel often means dealing with jet lag, the annoying travel companion who can zap all the energy and enthusiasm out of a trip.

Generally, jet lag is caused by the disruption of the 24-hour cycle of biochemical and physiological processes your body goes through each day. That disruption occurs when you cross several time zones and your body gets out of whack with its regular cycle.  

Jet lag usually means sleepiness during the day and inability to sleep at night. But it can also inflict headache, nausea, constipation or diarrhea, loss of appetite, impaired coordination or vision, and even memory loss.  Nothing you want to endure on a trip abroad.
Fortunately, you have options! Here are five natural and easy steps to ensure you leave this unwelcome travel companion behind.

Step 1: Shape up before you ship out.
Exercise, eat well, and get plenty of rest before your trip. Don’t start a new exercise regime two weeks before departure. Just be smart about keeping healthy and getting adequate sleep.
Step 2: Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.
Drink plenty of water before you leave, while in flight, and when you arrive. Your body needs water to perform natural functions efficiently and travel can leech your body’s moisture with stress and dry airplane air.

Step 3: Cut the cocktails and coffee.
Stay away from alcohol and excessive caffeine before you depart. Both are unnatural additions to your body chemistry that force sleep or wakefulness outside of normal rhythms.    

Step 4: Act like a hamster.
A study done on hamsters at the University of Toronto shows exercise can reduce jet lag. The hamsters’ normal light and dark schedules were switched and half the group ran on a wheel while the other half slept. The non-running hamsters took 5.4 days to adjust, while the running hamsters adjusted in 1.6 days! So take a brisk walk every day on your trip.

Step 5: When in Rome, eat and sleep like the Romans.
Eat and sleep at the normal times for your destination. You might not feel like it, but eat meals at the same time as the natives. Go to bed at the right time and do not sleep in — even if you have to drag yourself out of bed.

Follow these five easy steps and you may reduce or even eliminate jet lag and send that unwelcome travel companion packing! 

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