Jet lag should not be dismissed as a small matter. Many experts on the subject suggest allocating one day of respite on your trip for every hour that you are displaced from your “home” time zone. Pharmacists, homeopaths and psychologists have all weighed in and given their advice on the best way to conquer its symptoms. The result is a multitude of solutions at your disposal, to be put in place before, during and after your lengthy flight.
Whether you’re a chronic jet lag sufferer or simply don’t wish to waste your precious days in paradise sleeping in a hotel bed instead of lying on the beach, these tips on how to prevent jet lag are for you.
Jet lag symptoms
Symptoms include fatigue, headache, dehydration, irritability, and a hard time sleeping or concentrating. These pains are all a result of your body and mind trying to readjust to times of as few as three and as many as 12 hours away from the one you’re used to. Jet lag can hit on overseas and intercontinental flights and its effect depends more on the amount of time zones you cross rather than the flight’s length.
prevent jet lag before your flight
Adjust meal times
Adjusting to meals, for instance, is a key way to set your body clock straight. Eat your dinners, lunches and breakfasts according to the times of your destination. Though this may seem inconvenient during those last few days prior to leaving, it will really pay off when you find yourself already habituated to the times away from home. For instance, if you live in Boston (GMT -5) and are going to London (GMT +0), you should eat later than usual — though pushing your dinnertime from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. would be a bit excessive.
Eat the right foods
Eating food with the amino acid L-tryptophan, like turkey, can help you get a great night’s sleep right before you depart or leave you tired enough to rest on the plane. This will take care of your restlessness as well as fill you up.
The “right foods” can also be the ones most commonly eaten at your destination. For instance, if you’re going to India, you can plan ahead and start eating curried dishes, in order to avoid the shock of this new spice when you arrive. This will help to keep the stomachaches that are often related to jet lag to a minimum.
Get plenty of rest
Don’t go out partying the night before. Even if the guys want to hold a going-away shindig for you, refrain from drinking too much. The last thing you want is to be hung over on the airplane. Excessive amounts of coffee and a sleepless night before departure can have similarly unfavorable results. Instead, try to have a peaceful and restful night. Adjusting your sleeping patterns beforehand will pay off when you feel energetic upon arrival.
prevent jet lag during the flight
For many, the secret to avoiding the damaging effects of jet lag lies in what is done while onboard the plane. The dry air, cramped space and lack of air circulation can all affect your flight experience, which in turn, can lead to an increase in the occurrence of jet lag. Therefore, take the necessary steps to ensure that you don’t get stressed out about the man snoring next to you and feel rested and relaxed upon landing.
Drink a lot of water
Experienced travelers will recommend that you drink water onboard in order to stay hydrated. Don’t consume any beer or hard liquor either, since this will dehydrate you even more. Coffee should also be avoided, as your goal should be to sleep a little on the plane and not be wired.
The times you are not sleeping or enjoying the in-flight movie should be spent exercising. Even if you’re stuck in the middle seat, get up every so often to stretch your legs, arms, back, and neck. This can also be done if your flight has a brief stopover.
There are also some yoga exercises that may help alleviate jet lag. While remaining seated, flyers can do the downward-facing dog, and cat and cow contractions, which can help improve circulation. It might not be your idea of manly, but hey — they say it works.
Get some sleep
If the cramped conditions or feelings of anxiety are keeping you from sleeping, give homeopathic products a try. You can find these at your local pharmacy or even online, and although there are no side effects, it’s a good idea to consult your pharmacist or doctor beforehand.
Resorting to sleeping pills is not a good idea, as they will likely cause you to remain immobile for hours.
Make the most of the flight
All in all, it is important to have a relaxed mind-set when you board the plane. Many jet lag sufferers are stricken because they try doing too much to avoid it and perhaps even panic a little. Make it a relaxing trip and treat the flight as if you were sitting in your own living room. Enjoy the movie, read a book and talk to your neighbor, if he or she seems friendly enough.
prevent jet lag after the flight
There is more to do after your plane has landed than take pills and moan about how tired you feel. You can condition your body so that its own “clock” fixes itself quite rapidly. This requires strength and persistence, but it is well worth it, especially if you have no time to waste appreciating a new city or resort.
Don’t give in to sleep
Your body will naturally want to rest at odd times during the day, but it is your duty to resist that urge. Instead of trying to catch up on sleep, stay active and awake until your destination’s bedtime. It may be hard at first, but your mind will make the required adjustment. If this seems like an improbable solution or if you really cherish your sleep, take power naps instead. Don’t give in to a deep sleep, but take an hour between touring the sites to rest your eyes.
Catch some rays
In order to wake your body up from its sleepiness, doctors suggest going outdoors and taking in the sun. This is supposed to increase your alertness, which is an important factor in beating jet lag, or at least lessening its effects on your body. If you arrive in a rainy or cloudy locale, stay in places where the rooms are brightly lit, as this has a similar affect as natural light.
Replenish your system
To maintain the same levels of energy and freshness you have at home, several supplements and foods are recommended. Your basic vitamin tablets, with extra vitamin C, can help give you a boost in your quest to prevent jet lag. So can a healthy dose of fruits and vegetables. If your problem is more related to water consumption, then you may have to turn to rehydration salts. Water is a key component to your health, so make sure you have enough one way or another.
Small, light meals are a good idea, for both the dehydrated and the hydrated, as huge feasts will make you tired. Whatever your tastes in food, make sure you focus on reviving your overly stressed system.
don’t let the jet lag drag you down
With this wide range of solutions at your disposal, there is no reason why jet lag should become a significant problem when you’re headed to your destination and when you’re returning home. Even if some of the recommended remedies do not work for you, remember the mental capacity to overcome fatigue can be enough to enjoy your travels properly. Whatever it takes, most travelers would say it is highly worth it to avoid the kind of jet lag that can negatively impact your vacation plans.