Essential Tips to Avoid Jet Lag when Flying
Jet lag is a common problem among air travelers, especially for those on long haul flights. Jet lag results when our body clock or normal resting pattern is disrupted by crossing different time zones. Some people are lucky not to be affected by it but many will say that it is one of the worst feelings in the world, sometimes causing severe and unbearable symptoms.
Some of its symptoms include:
Excessive tiredness or fatigue
Lack of motivation and drive for activities
General malaise and melancholia
Constipation or diarrhea
In severe cases, symptoms include:
The good news is that symptoms only last for a few hours after a flight, depending on one’s ability to cope of course. However, for many of us who want to maximize every minute of our holidays or who have busy schedules, jet lag is best avoided. Everyone wants to get off his or her plane feeling fresh and rejuvenated! This is why it is best to minimize the effects of jet lag by taking precautionary measures.
Here are some guidelines to help you avoid or prevent jet lag from occurring and straining your travels:
Adjust your body clock. Adjust your body clock two to three days prior your departure by coinciding its sleeping and eating time with that of your destination. In doing so, you are already familiarizing your body with the changes during your flight.
Choose overnight flights. Overnight flights suggest that you might reach your destination in the morning or afternoon regardless of the different time zones. This means that you will be able to sleep at night and wake up in the morning or early afternoon as you normally do when not flying. (Unlike if you take afternoon flights, this would cause you to be awake all night!)
Avoid alcohol. Avoid or limit your alcohol intake as alcohol has a diuretic effect. This means that alcohol has a tendency to dehydrate by forcing the body to flush out water. Along with pressurized air in the cabin, which also dehydrates the body substantially, alcohol will only dry you out and hasten the effects of jet lag.
Avoid coffee.Avoid or limit your intake of caffeinated beverages before and during the flight. To be exact, avoid coffee 12 hours prior your departure! Caffeinated beverages will dehydrate you and keep you awake during the flight. It can also intensify your nerves, making you more irritable and anxious.
Drink water. It is important to stay hydrated during a flight to combat the effects of dehydration, which can ultimately worsen jet lag. Ask the flight attendant to give you a large bottle of water you can drink anytime you are feeling thirsty.
Stretch. Moving your body improves blood circulation and prevents your joints from stiffening, thus reducing the risk of jet lag. During in-flight, take the time to stand up, stretch and walk even if it is just to the lavatory. If seated, try bending your knees or rolling your ankles occasionally.
Sleep during the flight. Travel can be extremely exhausting especially during long haul flights. By getting a substantial amount of rest, you will be more prepared to deal with the effects of jet lag, or if lucky, not experience it at all!
Take sleeping pills and other homeopathic remedies. If you have a difficult time sleeping while flying, consider taking sleeping pills or a mild sedative. Other options would include taking melatonin supplements that can help regulate the sleeping and waking pattern of the body. Although taking these pills may help alleviate the effects of jet lag, doctors do not recommend them as you may become dependent.
Homeopathic (made from natural ingredients) remedies such as No-Jet-Lag can also help alleviate the symptoms of jet lag. These remedies are often chewable or non-chewable tablets that you can pop up once you have taken off, or every two to three hours until you reach your destination.
Divide your trip. For flights lasting more than eight hours long, consider breaking your trip by scheduling stopovers. Especially for those traveling from the west to the east, consider staying one or two days in a country halfway of your destination. This will shorten travel hours and ease the strains of jet lag, not to mention give you an excuse to visit more places.
Use the jet lag calculator. Airlines such as British Airways have established the jet lag calculator, an innovative way to minimize your jet lag. By answering a few questions and inputting data regarding your recent or planned flights, the calculator can immediately advise you on what steps to take to combat your jet lag!
If you arrive at your destination before your usual bedtime, try to stay awake. Going to bed as soon as you reach your hotel could disrupt your sleeping schedule and you might find yourself wide-awake during likely sleeping hours.