It is 3 pm on a sunny day in a new place.
You are not sure whether you are tired, hungry, hormonal, have a headache, are constipated or just bipolar.
Plus you can’t really think straight and everyone around you is super annoying.
If you love to travel by plane, you most probably know how jet lag feels like.
Hopping on an airplane is getting easier and long-distance travel, whether for business or pleasure, is getting more and more accessible. You board an aircraft, watch a few movies, and before you know it, you’re on the other side of the globe. While travel is a marvel, what it does to your body clock is not.
This is called jat lag.
Sad news is you can not avoid it. There is no over-the-counter remedy for jet lag.
The good news is that there a ways to ‘hack’ your body into returning to the normal state sooner. Strategies to reduce jet lag symptoms and adjust to the new time zone before you even arrive to the new destination.
Read along to find out how to overcome jet lag in 19 easy tips.
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“Jet lag is the result of a disruption in our body’s internal clocks.”
What exactly is a Jet lag
To be honest, Jet lag is pain in the a** of every traveler.
To be more formal and exact, jet lag is a mix of symptoms that may develop while traveling across many time zones in a short period of time.
We experience jet lag because our bodies have their internal clocks, known as circadian rhythms, which tells us when to sleep and when to be awake. Going to another time zone throws us out of sync from our normal routine, leading us to feel more exhausted or awake at unusual hours.
Jet lag will affect more the ones that travel frequently (flight attendants) and if you are older.
How long does Jet lag last
The good news is that jet lag is not permanent and it doesn’t last forever.
In most cases jag lag fades away after 3 to 5 days.
General rule of thumb is that for each time zone you cross, your body will need a day to adjust. For example, if you travel from Paris to San Francisco, you will change 9 different time zones and you will likely experience jet lag for 9 days. The jet lag will be more intense when coming back home to Paris, then when going to the USA.
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Jet lag symptoms
Common jet lag symptoms include one or more of the following;
- insomnia and unusual sleeping habits; difficult to fall asleep/ wake up,
- tiredness and exhaustion during daytime; being tired at unusual times of the day is probably the most common jet lag symptom,
- mood swings; being irritable, easily annoyed or depressed, which are caused because you are tired,
- difficulty concentrating or focusing as usual; being tired and exhausted, can at times lead for us to have difficulty concentrating especially on simple tasks,
- headache and fever; caused by exhaustion and body trying to get to a new rhythm,
- lack of appetite; you may not feel hungry at all for the first days in a new place, until your body adjusts. This is perfectly normal. You will get your appetite back!,
- stomach issues, constipation and diarrhea; tiredness, change of day/night time, no appetite, can affect our hormones and triggers stomach issues. Those usually go away after a couple of days.
The intensity of jet lag symptoms varies greatly depending on how many time zones you travel. In general, the more time zones you cover, the more likely you are to have jet lag.
Jet lag is usually worse as you travel from west to east. Flying eastbound, means to travel forward in time. From America to Europe or from Europe to Australia. It that case it may last longer than if you would travel from East to West. Westbound travel means traveling back in time. From Europe to America.
There are tried and tested ways how you can reduce the jet lag effects before, after and during your flight to the new destination.
19 easy tips to get over Jet lag
Jet lag is a common travel annoyance. To help your body adjust to a new time zone, there are several things you can do before, during and after flight, that will ease jet lag symptoms.
BEFORE THE FLIGHT
1. Drink plenty of water
Drinking enough of water and staying hydrated before and during flight can reduce the effects of jet lag. Proper hydration before the travel will keep your immune system functioning at a higher level and make up for the low humidity level on the plane.
2. Go on a journey well-rested
It’s extremely important to go on an adventure well-rested. This will enhance travel experience, benefit your health and ease the transition of your sleep cycle. If possible even try to get some extra sleep before your flight.
Try to complete all of your travel planning and preparation at least two days before your trip, so that you can rest and make sure you’re not too fatigued to remain awake when you need to in the 48 hours leading up to your departure.
3. Change your sleep schedule before the trip
Three to four days before travel, if the circumstances are allowing you, start shifting your sleeping schedule toward bedtime to the destination you are going to.
If you’re traveling east, you will go to bed a bit earlier. If you are traveling west, go to bed a bit later than usual. Whatever you do, get enough or even more sleep than usual.
If you are on a lang houl flight, checkif the airline is offering a free stopover. Take advantage of it, explore another city and ease the effects of jet lag.
4. Plan a layover
Consider organizing your journey with a stopover where you may spend a day or two someplace on your route to your ultimate destination to allow your body more time to adjust to a new schedule and make the transition easier.
Not only will this help you adjust to the local time zone at your ultimate destination, but it’s also a wonderful reason to visit another city, and the additional time in between flights may help you save money on travel tickets.
I did that a couple of times on my Europe – Australia flight route. I got to spend a day at a new destination; Qatar, Dubai, Singapore and Istanbul. In addition I slept in a top notch hotel, was able to properly stretch my legs and got a good night’s sleep.
5. If possible fly overnight
Flying at night will make it easier for you to adjust to the new time zone. If you can sleep on a plane you can get some extra sleep hours in before arriving to the destination.
Flying overnight is also a great way to save money, since flying at night means fewer accommodations booked.
6. Depending on the destination, try to arrive during the day
This will depend on which way (East or West) you are flying. Arriving when is still day outside will help you beat the jet lag and give you more time to explore a new destination.
7. Pick the right seat
Another way to ease jet lag is to sleep on the plane. To ensure comfort so that you can sleep is by choosing the right seat.
First-row seats can let you spread out a little bit, while window seats are also a good idea. Sitting by the window you don’t get disturbed that much and you can lean your pillow against the side of the plane. If you are afraid of turbulence, choose seats closer to the wings.
Which seat do you usually select? Window or Aisle?
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8. Hydrate even more
While flying drinking 250 ml (8 ounces) of water per hour is one of the best things you can do to prevent jet lag.
I always carry an empty water bottle through airport security and fill it up once I am in the terminal.
9. Avoid caffeine
This breaks my heart (I love coffee) but caffeine dehydrates. It should be avoided for up to 12 hours before traveling since it may interrupt your sleep cycle and keep you awake when you need to sleep.
10. Minimize alcohol
Doses of alcohol may disturb your sleep. This is because alcohol causes drowsiness and impairs your capacity to feel rested upon awakening, so it’s best avoided before boarding a plane if you want to prevent jet lag.
11. Change watch to the destination’s time zone
As soon as you are on a plane, start acting like you are in the time zone of your new destination. From then on eat, sleep and stay awake according to your destination’s time zone. Sleeping and having meals at your destination time is another way to change your circadian rhythm.
12. Sleep – if you can
Picking the right seat beforehand can help you to fall asleep while on a plane. It is hard to get a normal sleep, but try to get a little rest if you can. Be sure to sleep when is the most appropriate time to your new destination.
To help you sleep and make yourself comfortable, Use a travel pillow, ear plugs or noise-canceling headphones, an eye mask, and a blanket.
13. Stretch out
This can be tricky, especially if you prefer to seat by the window. But try to stretch out a couple of times while on a flight. Moving around will stimulate your blood circulation, loosen up joints, and speed up your metabolism and digestive system.
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14. Adapt to the destination schedule
At your new destination start eating and sleeping in your new time zone. It will be hard at first but it will speed up the process of adjusting to your new destination. Eat-in line with the local time at your destination. Even if you are not hungry, go to bed when it’s time to sleep. This will assist your body in adjusting to your new daily schedule.
15. Get some sun natural light
Sunshine is the main ingredient that will help you to ‘reset’ your body clock and may help with jet lag. Not only will sunlight and fresh air wake you up a little, but it will also deceive your body into changing its internal schedule more quickly. So go for a walk or visit some outdoor attractions.
If temperature permits, try to get some rays while the sun is at its brightest, which is usually in the early afternoon. When your eyes do not get enough light, your brain creates melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.
16. Keep moving during the day
If you’re becoming drowsy on vacation, getting up and walking about now and then can help keep you awake. Don’t stay in bed or at your accommodation. Go out and start moving.
It’ll not only help you remain on schedule when traveling, but it’ll also keep your circulation flowing if you’re on a lengthy journey. Foods like fruits, veggies, or granola bars might help increase your energy and keep you alert until your body adapts.
Jet lag is something we simply can not avoid. But by staying well-rested and drinking enough of water, adjusting to the new time zone will be easier.
17. Have a caffeinated drink
If you have a feeling that you will not make it during the whole day without falling asleep, have a caffeinated drink. It can be coffee, tea, energy drink or soda.
This drink will not cure your jet lag but will help you to get through the day. If you must take it, try to have it in the morning but avoid it in the afternoon and evening.
18. Before going to bed, take a warm bath or shower
Take a warm bath or shower if you find yourself still wide awake or too thrilled to sleep while it’s near to local bedtime. It’s not only a great way to pamper yourself, but the warm water will help relax your muscles.
A warm bath or shower causes your body temperature to decrease, making you feel sleepy and ready to sleep. If budget permits, splurge on a luxury hotel with a relaxing view.
19. Limit your exposure to blue light before going to bed
Our laptop and phone display continuously expose us to artificial “blue” light. Using such devices in the evening can negatively affect your sleep and circadian rhythm for up to two nights, as well as how alert you are the next morning.
This may be exacerbated by jet lag, so reading before going to bed may be a better option than checking your phone.
All of the above in a nutshell
Jet lag is every traveler’s nightmare. Something that we just can not escape but can ease the symptoms. Jet lag is a common body reaction that occurs when traveling to a different time zone. This messes up our ‘normal’ body routine so we feel tired, can not sleep, and have mood swings. The good part is that it usually lasts only a couple of days.
It is usually worst when traveling from West to East. While you can not avoid it, there are things you can do before, during, and after a flight that might soften the symptoms.
Some of them are by drinking enough water before and during flight, having enough sunlight, and avoiding alcohol and caffeine, we can minimize the symptoms. By adjusting to the destination routine, eating and going to bed in the new time zone, and moving during the day you will reduce the jet lag symptoms and avoid their greater extent.
Have you ever experienced jet lag?
How did you cope with it?
I would love to know what you do to ease the effects of jet lag.
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Skipped to the good part? Here is the gist
Jet lag is a feeling of tiredness that happens when traveling over multiple time zones in a short period of time. It shows in common symptoms like tiredness, insomnia and mood swings. This is the body’s normal reaction to switching circadian rhythm, not following the usual day/night routine. It usually disappears after a couple of days. You can not prevent it but there are several things you can do before, during, and after a flight to minimize it. From hydration, having enough sleep, and adjusting to the new time zone as soon as possible.
I hope this article did give you a lot of information hot to fight against jet lag.
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What do you do to get over jet lag?
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