February 11, 2023
Flying these days is stressful enough even without the discomfort of jet lag. When you're jet lagged, your body gets out of sync with the local time. You may feel exhausted, disoriented, and have a hard time thinking straight. Jet lag can also make you feel sick, and cause headaches, stomach problems, and dizziness. Let’s get a closer look at the symptoms of jet lag, why it happens, and what you can do to minimize its effects.
When you fly across several time zones, your body's natural rhythms get thrown off. The most important body clock is the master biological clock deep in your brain, which is set by the amount of daylight you get. When you fly to a different time zone, your brain thinks it's still daytime or nighttime, depending on when you left. This can make you feel either really tired or wide awake at the wrong time. There is no getting around it, jet lag is a drag and can make the first day or two of a vacation or an important business trip miserable.
Ways to minimize jet lag fall into two main categories: prevention and treatment after its onset. Here are some things you can do prior to your trip, during your flight, and after you arrive at your destination to prevent or at least minimize jet lag:
One - Get plenty of rest before you fly. If you are already tired or have had disrupted sleep prior to your trip, you are at a disadvantage even before your plane has left the gate. Do your best to get enough quality sleep for several nights prior to your departure.
Two - Speaking of sleep, you can also try to adjust your sleep schedule before your trip. If you're traveling east, try going to bed a bit earlier in the days leading up to your trip. If you're traveling west, try going to bed a bit later each night before you depart.
Three - Also try to adjust your meal times so they are more in line with those at your destination in the days prior to your flight.
Four - As soon as you board your plane, adjust your watch to your new time zone. During the flight, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoid caffeine and alcohol.
Six - If it’s already night time when you arrive, avoid bright lights and go to bed and wake up at the new local time.
Seven - Use a sleep mask and earplugs to help you get to sleep more easily.
Eight - Give your body time to adjust in the first few days of your trip and avoid trying to do too much.
Nine - Get plenty of natural sunlight every day, especially first thing in the morning, as this will help to reset your body’s master clock to the new time zone.
Ten - Avoid heavy, unhealthy meals, especially within two hours before bedtime. Eat lightly for the first few days, and include plenty of fresh vegetables and adequate amounts of water.
Bonus Tip - If you are really struggling, check with a physician about possibly taking medication such as over-the-counter melatonin, caffeine, or Dramamine. If you can adjust without resorting to mediations this is preferable. These medicines and/or supplements should be used under a doctor’s supervision, especially if you have any chronic health conditions.
Jet lag can be really frustrating, but with a little bit of planning, you can minimize the effects. By following these tips, you'll be feeling like your old self in no time. Have a good trip!
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