It’s really fun and interesting to travel whether it’s for work or pleasure. However, traveling to different countries, especially those in different time zones can result in jet lag. Jet lag is also called flight fatigue. It is a temporary disorder that may cause insomnia, fatigue, and other symptoms which are results of air travel across time zones. Jet lag is considered to be a circadian rhythm disorder which is the disruption of our internal body clock.
When you have jet lag, your body will tell you it’s time to sleep even though it’s actually the middle of the afternoon, or it can also make you want to stay up even when it’s late at night. Aside from insomnia and fatigue, you can also experience other physical and emotional symptoms when you have jet lag such as constipation, diarrhea, headache, nausea, dizziness, and even anxiety.
People do not really need a medical evaluation for a diagnosis of jet lag. It’s because when you have traveled across several time zones and you feel the symptoms associated with it, it’s likely that you have it. But don’t worry because it will eventually go away. The amount of time to recover from jet lag depends on the number of time zones you’ve crossed while traveling. It is only temporary and most people will recover within a few days.
If you’re a frequent traveler or if it’s your first time to travel across time zones and you want to know how to get over jet lag, you’re in the right place. Today, we are going to give you tips for getting over jet lag.
1. Prepare at home before your flight
If you’re a frequent traveler and you know that you’re prone to experiencing jet lag, then getting yourself ready at home is essential. There are more chances of getting the worse symptoms of jet lag when you’re flying east than flying west because when you fly west, your body will think that your day is getting longer whereas flying east makes it think the day is shorter.
Therefore, it’s best to adapt your body’s rhythm a few days before departure. When you are going east, try to sleep about 2 hours earlier than usual. If you are going west, try to stay up for 1 to 2 extra hours. You should also try to get up earlier or get up later in turn.
It’s also important to pay attention when you are booking your flight. It’s because you’re more at risk of jet lag when you arrive in the morning since day drags on for a longer period of time. It’s better to arrive in the afternoon or evening because you only need to stay up for a few hours. You can simply move around the new city for a bit and have something to eat before heading to bed.
2. Adjust your time to the new time zone
Once you’re on the plane, you should get yourself mentally prepared for the new rhythm. Set your watch to the new destination’s local time and try to keep yourself awake if it’s still daytime there. It might be difficult for you to stay away if it’s light out at your destination but it can work to your advantage if it’s nighttime in your destination so you can sleep on the plane.
3. Try to customize your sleep-wake rhythm
It is very helpful to adapt your body’s rhythm in relation to the time you are asleep or away in the new location or time zone. If you are heading east, you’ll want to go to sleep on the plane. You can wear cozy clothes, use some inflatable cushions and earplugs to avoid being disturbed by the noise around. This will also help if you’re not able to get much sleep the night before your flight.
If you are traveling west, make sure that you stay awake. You can try to find an airline that has a good entertainment program where you can watch the latest movies and TV series that will keep you up.
4. Do not eat too much
Did you know that airplane food has an influence on your jet lag? Actually, both in the air and on the ground foods can make you feel very heavy and tired, especially those carbohydrate-rich foods. Burgers, rice, potatoes, and pasta during a stopover will increase your need for sleep. These foods can be really helpful when you are going east. But if you are traveling west, it’s better to choose lighter and more protein-rich foods to help you stay awake such as eggs, fish, and meat.
5. Drink lots of water, but avoid coffee and alcohol
When you’re inside the plane, you will notice that the air is quite dry and it can stretch and dry up your skin. That’s why it’s important to get a glass of water every once in a while to keep yourself hydrated. However, you should avoid drinking coffee and alcohol because the effects of these are only brief and they can actually dehydrate you even more and make it difficult for you to adjust to the new time zone. If you want to drink other beverages, you can opt for juice instead.
6. Adjust yourself to the daily rhythm of the new time zone
The best way to get over jet lag is to get in the rhythm of your destination once you get off the plane. Though beds are very attractive after a long flight, you need to resist the temptation of sleeping because a daytime nap is counterproductive and it can only make your jet lag worse.
When you arrive in the morning and you feel really tired, you can give yourself an hour or two to sleep. But you need to make sure that you get up in the late morning or afternoon again. The first night is very crucial when traveling to a different time zone because you might wake up a couple of times in the middle of the night or sleep through the night due to exhaustion.
If it’s daytime and you are sleepy, you can simply go out and have something to eat and try to get comfortable in your new home for a bit. Going out in the daylight will help your body adapt to the new environment. Also, avoid thinking about what’s going on at home because that will not help you adjust.
7. Take the first few days easy
It is best to slowly get used to the environment and time zone on the first few days that you stay at your destination. You can wait until the third day before you start your adventure. It’s because a long flight takes a pretty big effort from your body that’s why it needs to recover for some time. Also, the effect on your body is really bad if you fly from a cold area to a hot area, and vice versa.
8. Go out into the daylight or make your room really dark
To stay awake, you can go out into the daylight because sunlight inhibits the production of melatonin, which is the hormone in your body that makes you feel tired. Also, fresh air after a long flight can help your body out since the air in the plane is so dry. Daylight and fresh air will help you overcome your fatigue and stay awake more easily.
If you are having a difficult time falling asleep, you don’t need to take sleeping pills. It’s because they only act on a short-term basis and can cause your body to be more confused. You can just simply darken your room or put an eye mask and use an earplug. These can help your body calm down and unwind. You can also try listing to an audiobook or soothing music to help you fall asleep faster.
9. Adjust yourself before heading home again
If you think that you’ll be faced with jet lag symptoms again on your way home, it’s better to prepare yourself before departing. You can follow the tips we shared again when you head home.
There is really no one, single, universal trick you can use against jet lag. But the tips we shared will be able to help you get over it easier and reduce its effects. You can also check out our post on How to Minimize the Effects of Jet Lag for more tips.