The prospect of dealing with jet lag has kept many travelers from scheduling overseas flights. If you’re finally taking a long-planned vacation over multiple time zones, symptoms like fatigue, insomnia, irritability, and nausea can keep you from enjoying your time abroad.
The physical and emotional distress of jet lag happens when exposure to light and dark is misaligned with your body’s internal clock. You need to help your body gradually adjust to the new time zone, and this adjustment starts even before you arrive at your destination.
If you need to hit the ground running when you travel, here are tips and remedies suggested by experts to help keep jet lag from negatively impacting your travel experiences.
- First of all, get plenty of rest before leaving on your trip. Some experts suggest gradually changing sleep patterns before departure, if possible, to align more with the time zone of your destination.
- Plan ahead, pack early, and don’t cram too much activity into the last day prior to leaving (forego the bon voyage party!).
- Arrive at eh airport early so you have plenty of time to check in and relax. This will set the tone for your flight.
- Drink plenty of water. Limit alcohol, coffee, or caffeinated sodas during the flight. These drinks add to dehydration which results from re-circulated air in the plane.
- Eat small quantities of food or consider fasting during the 12 hours prior to the wake cycle at your destination.
- Set your watch to the new time zone as soon as you board the plane, and try to sleep enroute. Catching some zzz’s during the flight will help you be more functional upon arrival and enable you to get on local time more quickly.
- While the temptation to watch one movie after the other may be hard to overcome, make sure you get up and move. Exercise at your seat and walk the aisles to keep your blood flowing. This could prevent a blood clot or deep vein thrombosis, which can be very serious, even deadly.
- Upon arrival get out in fresh air and sunshine, if you arrive during the day. Taking a walk in sunlight will help your body re-set to the new time zone.
- If you arrive in the daytime, resist the urge to sleep for even a short time. If absolutely necessary, limit your nap to half an hour—nothing longer.
- If you arrive at night, exercise or walk around, preferably where there’s a source of light since light helps reset your body’s natural clock. Staying indoors will worsen jet lag, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
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