Traveling can be an exciting activity. You go to places you’ve never been to before, or you visit relatives you haven’t seen in a while. Whatever the reason for your trip, you don’t want to feel tired and sluggish during your time away. When you travel through many time zones, you might experience jet lag. Jet lag is when your internal clock is disrupted by changing time zones. The more time zones you cross, the more pronounced the jet lag will be. There are specific signs and symptoms of jet lag. These signs include:
- Lack of concentration
- Fuzzy headed feeling
- Uncomfortable feeling in the legs and feet
- Disrupted sleep after arriving at your destination
It takes time to recover from jet lag. The estimation from NASA suggests that it takes one day for each time zone you pass through to recover your normal internal rhythm. So if you fly through five time zones, it will take five days for you to feel normal. Flying one or two times zones away isn’t usually a problem, and it shouldn’t effect your internal schedule too much, but any more than two, and you might feel the effects. There are a few natural remedies for jet lag. There are ways to prepare your body for your trip so the effects aren’t as severe as they could be.
Prepare Before Your Trip
If you know in advance that you have a trip coming up that is several time zones away, you can start to adjust your schedule before hand. Go to bed an hour earlier than you normally would (or later depending on which way you’re traveling). Take a natural sleep aid such as melatonin to help you get to sleep earlier. Make sure you set your alarm clock an hour earlier also, so you don’t sleep to your usual time. Keep setting the clock back an hour every day until you’re on the time zone of your destination.
Jet lag can also disrupt your eating patterns. Adjust your eating patterns just like you adjusted your sleep patterns a few days before your trip. Eat meals at times that correspond with your destination. High protein diets can help your body prepare for a long flight. If you’re sitting on an airplane for several hours without moving, the protein in your diet will help fight off fatigue.
During Your Trip
Get plenty of water before, during, and after your flight. The air on an airplane is recycled and very dry. This can quickly dehydrate you and leave you feeling fatigued. Drink water throughout your flight to keep your body alert and hydrated. Avoid caffeinated drinks such as soda, tea, and coffee. Alcohol should be avoided as well. Stick with water the whole way.
While you’re on the plane flying to your destination, set your watch for the new time zone. Once you do this, start thinking as if you’re in the time zone already. Don’t think about what time it is at home, concentrate on where you are now. When you arrive at your destination, get outside and into the sun as soon as possible. The sunlight will wake you up and give you a boost in energy.
If you begin to feel sleepy on the plane, get up and move around. Be sure it’s safe to do so. Stand up, stretch your legs, and walk up and down the aisle to get your blood flowing. The longer you sit still, the more tired your body will feel. If you get up and stretch from time to time, you’ll stay alert and won’t be tempted to nap.
When you land, stay active. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Keep your legs moving, this will help you stay alert and will not have you dwelling on how tired you may be feeling. Stay active until it’s time to get to bed in the new time zone. Again, set your alarm so you don’t over sleep.
If you’ve got a trip coming up, and your destination is in a time zone far from where you live, keep these ideas in mind. The natural remedies for jet lag listed above can help you adjust and have you spending more time having fun with relatives or enjoying new travel sites. Bring along some natural sleep aids, like melatonin, in case you find yourself still having a hard time falling asleep.
What are your tips to help or avoid jet lag?
Photo by Olastuen