Jet lag results from alterations to the body’s circadian rhythms caused by rapid long-distance trans-meridian travel and it disrupts the internal body clock. The more time zones you cross, the more you’ll be affected by jet lag. The recovery period is usually one day per time zone crossed.
Some of us are more prone than others. Try not to think about what time it is at home and what you’d normally be doing as it’ll only serve to make things worse.
Below are some tips to help you adjust.
EAST VERSUS WEST
Flying East is worse than west because when flying west, your body thinks the day’s getting longer whereas flying east, it thinks the day is shorter.
Therefore, start adapting by preparing at least a day or two before your intended departure. Be more flexible with your daily schedule and routines, including meal times. If flying east, try to get to bed at least a couple of hours earlier and get up earlier than you normally would. Also try to get some sleep on the plane.
If you’re going to be travelling west, stay awake longer and get up later. The tip here when you’re on board your flight is to try and stay awake as long as you can and keep yourself entertained with good movies if this service is offered.
SET YOUR WATCH
Set your watch to your destination’s time zone to get yourself psychologically aligned. However make sure you don’t do it until you get onto the plane as you don’t want to miss your flight. If it’s still light at your destination, then try to stay awake. If it’s dark, get some shut eye if you can.
TO SEDATE OR NOT TO SEDATE
Rather than taking sleeping pills, which will leave you feeling fuzzy, opt for Melatonin. Melatonin is a natural hormone which is produced by your brain and tells your body to go to sleep. It’s recommended to consult your physician even though it can be purchased over the counter.
Your brain starts to produce Melatonin when it senses darkness so you might also consider wearing sunglasses on the flight (don’t worry about what anyone thinks) until you’re ready to sleep and then switch to a sleeping mask.
Use ear plugs or noise-cancelling headphones to help you get a better sleep. There are a number of travel pillows available in the market place. If you can afford it, I’d suggest investing the NapAnywhere pillow which bends into a neck support or the Cabeau Evolution Pillow with its responsive memory foam and 360 deg head and neck comfort.
EATING AND DRINKING
When travelling east, if you manage to have a couple of hours in transit, fill up on carbohydrate-rich food such as rice, pasta and burgers as they’ll make you feel tired and increase need for sleep.
Food should be lighter and more protein-rich if travelling west on the other hand as you need to sleep less.
Keep alcohol and caffeine to a minimum as they’ll dehydrate you. Drink plenty of water and juice instead. A350s and A380s have been designed to help the air retain moisture and they also have air purification systems so you may want to consider booking these.
Once you arrive at your destination, try to eat a meal at the standard local time – and enjoy your caffeine.
One of the best things to do to help your body to adapt is to break your journey en-route with an overnight stop or perhaps two, specifically if you’re travelling east.
AT YOUR DESTINATION
Try to avoid the temptation of jumping straight into bed. Check-in to your accommodation, freshen up and spend some time out in the daylight to help your body adapt. If you feel you’re just too tired, then take a nap but try to make it for a couple of hours only. If you arrive in the morning, then ensure you’re up by late morning if possible.
If you think you’ll have a problem falling asleep when night draws near on your first day, then perhaps go for a jog or undertake vigorous activity.
Try not to undertake any major sightseeing until day 2 or 3 as you’ll need to allow your body to adjust. You don’t want to fall asleep and miss out.
So if you follow the tips provided, it shouldn’t take your body too long to get into the rhythm.
IMAGES ON UNSPLASH
- Image 1 – Jay Wen
- Image 2 – Omar Prestwich
- Image 3 – Linda Rose
- Image 4 – Pina Messina
- Image 5 – Robin Stickel
- Image 6 – Printable Concept
- Image 7 – Travis Yewell