For a frequent traveler or international traveler, your
worst enemy would be jet lag. Whether you have an important business trip or
you’re finally taking your dream vacation, don’t let jet lag symptoms –
insomnia, fatigue, daytime sleepiness or mild nausea – drain your energy and
ruin your time aboard.
Jet lag can occur any time you travel quickly across two or
more time zones. The more time zones you cross, the more likely you are to be
sleepy and sluggish – and the longer and more intense the symptoms are likely
Why do we get jet lag?
Working out how to prevent jet lag becomes significantly
easier when we understand how our bodies work.
Your internal clock or biorhythm circadian is not as easy to
adjust as just forwarding your wristwatch to the time of your destination. When
traveling through multiple time zones at high altitudes in high speed, it will
take its toll on your body. Your biorhythm/ internal clock and external clock
get desynchronized or built-in routines of our body for a 24 hour period (such
as eating and sleeping) are thrown into disarray. Your body cannot acclimatize
with the time differences. And such your general health is going to be
temporarily affected – extreme fatigue along with indigestion, bowel problems,
loss of appetite, memory and concentration issues. Jet lags kicks in once you
have travelled at least two time zones. Jet
lag doesn’t just affect different people in different ways. Jet lag effects can
vary depending on our age, state of health and stress levels. Jet lags symptoms
are worse when you are flying east.
Symptoms are the direct result of
traveling across numerous time zones in a short time period. This is especially
bad news for coast-to-coast or international business travelers.
Anyone who flies through multiple time zones has to grapple
with the biorhythmic confusion known as jet lag. Flying from the US to Europe,
you switch your wristwatch six to nine hours forward. Your body says,
“Hey, what’s going on?” Body clocks don’t reset so easily. All your
life you’ve done things on a 24-hour cycle. Now, after crossing the Atlantic,
your body wants to eat when you tell it to sleep and sleep when you tell it to
enjoy a museum.
You cannot avoid this biorhythmic confusion. Luckily, you
can minimize the symptoms and have most productive time by following these
Knowing how to prepare for a long-haul flight can mean you
start your holiday feeling fresh, rather than fatigued. If you’re someone with
a rigid schedule at home, try to relax that schedule during the days before the
flight. Having a rigid routine of eating and sleeping will make it harder to
adjust to new time zones. If you’re flexible about such arrangements, you’ll
start your trip abroad with a major advantage.
You can make a schedule that matches your destination time. Have
your mealtimes closer to that of your destination times. People can easily
asleep in their own beds but it might be a problem when you are on the flight
or at your destination. Shift gradually. If you are flying east, move your
bedtime earlier and if you are flying west move it to later.
Shift your sleep schedule for long trips. Move your
mealtimes. That might mean a super-early trip to the gym in the morning and
going to bed before your favorite TV shows are over. But it pays off when you
arrive and also makes it easier to sleep on those red-eye flights.
Leave the home
Flying halfway around the world is stressful. The flights
are long. if you are not fully rested or you had a night-out before your flight
next day, your body will show its effects during the first part of your trip. Make
sure you are completely rested and relaxed before your flight. Pack all your
stuff 48 hours prior your flight. Keep your body fully rested without any
stress in these two days. Your mind is also ready for the trip.
Keep that last 48-hour period sacred (apart from your normal
work schedule), even if it means being hectic before your false departure date.
Then you have two orderly, peaceful days after you’ve packed so that you are
physically ready to fly. Mentally, you’ll be comfortable about leaving home and
starting this adventure. You’ll fly away well rested and 100 percent capable of
enjoying the bombardment of your senses that will follow.
Going into a trip already tired and sleep deprived will
seriously hurt your chances of beating jet lag once you arrive at your
destination. Get consistent quality sleep before your trip.
If you leave frazzled after a hectic last night and a wild
bon-voyage party, there’s a good chance you won’t be healthy for the first part
of your trip.
People often end up having slept for just a few hours before
a long flight – whether it’s due to pre-holiday excitement or a deliberate
attempt to tire yourself out so that you’ll sleep through the flight. Big
mistake. Last minute changes to your routine will only make it harder to
adjust to new time zones, and getting a good night’s sleep before your
flight will leave you better equipped to cope with jet lag.
Rest and reset
If you can sleep on the plane –even for a few hours – it
makes a big difference. If your arrival is daytime, it is better sleep during
your flight. Adjust your body and mind along with your wristwatch to the time
zone once it has been announced. Keep your mind off from thinking about your
time from your home (Don’t prolong jet lag by reminding yourself what time it
is back home. Be in Europe.) This will aids in avoiding stress and jet lag to
kick in faster. You can use eye masks, ear plugs to avoid distractions and
disturbances for your sleep. You can also wear comfortable clothing and follow
your daily routine bedtime to ease in your sleep. Avoid overeating before and
during your flight.
When taking a red-eye to Europe, having breakfast
immediately after waking up on the plane or once you get into the airport –
even if not hungry – will definitely
help adjust your body to the idea that yes, it is now morning, even if
your friends and family back home are sound asleep.
If you can sleep anywhere easily then you are lucky. But if
you can’t do that, choose a seat that is not near galleys and lavatories. These
are high traffic areas with their motion and commotion which can keep you awake
or disturb your sleep. Choose the seat that reclines and allows stretching. If
you are someone who doesn’t need to get off your seating often you can choose
window seat. You can use pillow at the side to have comfortable sleeping.
Set your watch
Switch your watch after takeoff. When you get on the plane,
set your watch to the time of your destination to get yourself psychologically
aligned. A warning: don’t get clever and do this beforehand, unless you want to
end up with the world’s most ridiculous excuse for missing your flight.
Keep in mind that your body thinks it’s still that time.
You’ll need to gradually align your body with the new time zone. So set your
watch to the new time as soon as you get on the plane, but don’t lose track of
what time your biological clock is keeping.
Don’t shift time for
short trips. This tip is only for trips less than 48 hours. If you’re
jetting off to Europe for a single meeting and then racing back home, it pays
to stay on your home time zone.
Get some exercise
It helps your body feel more normal and not as confined on a
plane. This doesn’t combat jet lag per se, but it does reduce some of the scars
of travel. Move around regularly and do exercises to keep the blood flowing. And
if you’ve ever wondered how to avoid DVT (deep vein thrombosis), you should
know that good circulation is key. Investing in a pair of flight socks can
minimize the risk of DVT and improve circulation (a slowing of which is one of
the most common effects of jet lag).
Do some exercise to boost your endorphins and stretch out
the kinks which develop on long haul flights. These days, almost all airline
magazines will have a section dedicated to simple exercises for long haul
Keep your body hydrated before, during and after your
flight. Drink water as much as you can but maintain it that it doesn’t affect
you during flight. Hydration aids in sleep.
Dry and pressurized cabins can quickly dehydrate you, making
you feel extremely sleepy. Drinking
water throughout the trip helps ease that process. It doesn’t stop jet lag but
it helps make sure dehydration doesn’t compound your fatigue.
Do not drink alcoholic and high caffeinated beverages.
Instead of helping you sleep it may make you more awake. Alcohol can also cause
dehydration and increase tiredness, making
it even harder to beat the inevitable jet lag.
Your body functions best when it’s hydrated, so drinking
lots of water is a great way to offset the effects of jet lag.
A more extreme tip is to start eating three meals a day in
line with the new time zone, even if that means cornflakes at 11pm. Eat
Use of prescription
If your flight time is longer than 8 hours, you can take in
some medication after consultation. Some
medicine may make you wake up feeling drowsy once you have landed. For flights
shorter than 7 hours, it is best to avoid taking in medicine. This will influence in early hours of your
Stay awake until local
Do not try to doze off as soon as you land. If you doze off
at 4 p.m. and wake up at midnight, you’ve accomplished nothing. Try to keep
yourself awake at least till earliest local bedtime. This way your body will
adjust or is forced to acclimatize with the local time. Plan a good walk breathing
in fresh air until early evening while standing firm to fight off drowsiness. (Jet
lag hates fresh air, daylight, and exercise. Your body may beg for sleep, but
stand firm: Refuse. Force your body’s transition to the local time.)
Split up the trip
Try and build in a stopover, so your body has more time to
adapt to the new routine. This can also slash the price of your airfare.
If you want to stay on top of you games then you can arrange
to make it that you arrive few days prior to your event. Get your body and mind
acclimatize with local time and meals. Do some light exercise and move around
periodically in-flight. We may not be able to completely avoid or cure jet lag.
But with these few simple strategies we can lessen the effects and symptoms of
Best way to fight off jet lag is to leave your home with
fully relaxed body and mind, force your body for transition into local time.
And enjoy your trip from the moment you step off the plane.