What are the top best ways to avoid jet lag?
A lot of people live in a suitcase for some time (when they constantly travel for work). Their trips start from point A to B to C to D and back to A. Sometimes, these points are in different time zones or even countries.
How jet lag affects?
We each have our normal routine which includes eating, sleeping and other things. These rhythms get wildly out of sync when we travel long distances at high speeds. The big leap in time zones can get our bodies disoriented, causing indigestion, fatigue, concentration, insomnia, sleepiness and loss of appetite etc.
These rhythms are measured by the distinct rise and fall of body temperature, plasma levels of certain hormones and other biological conditions. All of these are influenced by our exposure to sunlight and help decide when we sleep and when we wake. When traveling to new time zone, our circadian rhythms are slow to adjust and stay on their original biological schedule for several days.
This results in our bodies telling us it is time to sleep when it’s actually the middle of the afternoon or it makes us want to stay awake when it is late at night. This experience is known as jet lag. As explained by the US National Sleep Foundation.
What to do?
Let me give you an interesting piece of information. This website compares airline rates, has noted direction of your air travel determines how severe jet lag will be?
Generally speaking, people find traveling east produces the worst jet lag. Therefore “west is best and east is the beast”. This is because when we travel, we find ourselves trying to get to sleep when our bodies are actually waking up and are then forced to get up at what feels like midnight.
Let me put it another way in a question. Do you like a longer day or shorter day? We are better at dealing with a longer day than a shorter day. For example, weekends are longer when we have long days and night parties which we never mind. Think about the 2nd day of the weekend when the day is short because we sleep in late and have to sleep at night on our regular time to start our next work week.
Studies have found that it takes a full day to recover from each time zone one travels through says the popular website.
Planning the trip
I remember when I was young I could work my shift and then travel to Amsterdam for training. which generally started the same day because KLM flight from Delhi lands in Amsterdam around 0730. Absolutely no problem. I am not as young anymore.
Now when I travel to India, on my 1st day after arrival I allow my body to adjust to the new time clock. While I prefer direct flights (remember my article about climate change? Read it here) I also see the beauty of cutting long flights to no more than 8 flying hours and then a stop. It allows me to go out of the plane, walk, stretch, eat well and rest. Depending upon the airlines and route, I try to arrange 1 stop in between long flights.
I don’t like flights that are over 13 hours. These flights impact the environment and one’s body. At a young age, there was no way I could sleep on a long or short-haul flight until I was really exhausted. I tried arriving at my destination in the evening or early morning hours so that I sleep (evening arrivals) or make my day long by not sleeping (early morning arrivals).
Now like some of you I love overnight flights. We can have dinner close to our normal time and be much more likely to sleep than on an afternoon flight. Depending upon the length of flight, your destination & number of time zones you cross, when you arrive at your destination, you can try and have your normal schedule.
Once you are on your normal schedule, it will be easy for you to reset your clock. I have heard from a lot of travelers, the difference in time between your departure city and your arrival city is how many days it takes for you to adjust to local settings. For me, the time difference between Delhi and Calgary is about 12 hours. Which means it will take me 12 days to fully adjust to Delhi time.
On board the flight
In order for you to have good rest, remove your shoes, put your socks on and use noise canceling headphones and a sleep mask.
Make sure to use your favorite neck pillow. I don’t drink coffee and love tea.
However, I stay away from tea before and during a long haul flight. I strongly recommend, if possible, stay away from caffeine (in tea, coffee, soda, pop etc.) for 12 hours before and during the flight.
Taking alcohol at high altitude is not a good idea either. I have read that Alcohol on high altitudes can increase tiredness and cause dehydration. I am sure you know that cabin air dehydrates passengers and altitude changes can quicken the effects of alcohol. The rule of thumb is one drink in the air is the same as two or three on the ground.
A cocktail may relax you but it also apt to dry you out. And sometimes worsen symptoms of jet lag. Those of who drink may agree to this.
One word of caution here. Do you know the dirtiest place on a plane? Post your thoughts in comments.
On board, the flight….continued
I strongly recommend drinking a lot of water even if it means frequent trips to the washroom. Consider these washroom visits as an exercise to stay active while flying. How much water should you drink?
It is not dependent upon how thirsty you are. I would say 10 Ounce for every hour is a bare minimum. This is equal to little over a 250 ML water bottle. I stress water only, no caffeine or juice. Rule of the thumb is 1 liter for a four-hour flight. Calculate your flight times and consume water accordingly.
Hydrate your skin as well. Don’t forget to put on and keep lip balm and moisturizer handy. Make sure to keep your blood circulating.
You can find a lot of youtube videos and tutorials about how to keep yourself active while flying? I love the exercise when you are sitting for some time, just pull your knees up and down. Do some stretching, move around, rotate and wiggle your arms and feet.
If you are going long distance, try to adjust your biological clock to your destination time few days in advance.
Even while you are on the plane try to adjust your schedule if possible. After arrival try to stay awake until night and spend some time outdoors. This can help your body to adjust quickly to local time zone. If you are not able to stay awake then try to have naps only for 15 to 20 minutes. If you sleep longer, then you will create a problem for your normal sleeping hours.
Our family tradition is to go to a local mall, local stores and try outdoors as much as possible. Try and stay outside in sunlight when and most possible. Daylight is a powerful stimulant for changing and adjusting your biological clock.
Staying indoors will make you want to go to bed and will make adjustments harder and even longer. Remember east and west travel? If you are traveling east, then for a week go to bed an hour early. However, if you are going to the west, good luck.
You will have to go to bed one hour later for almost 2 weeks. East or West try to eat your meals closer to the time you will be eating them at your destination.
Simply stated, it is much easier for most to lengthen a day then shortening it. So instead of surprising, work with the body to adjust naturally and fast. If you have any special ways or tricks and tips, please share with our readers.