Jet Lag is a common feature for business and sporting professionals who work industries that require extensive travel.
Despite the extreme exhaustion and other physical difficulties that come with the territory when they have Jet Lag, these professionals are still expected to perform at an optimal level when they reach their respective destinations.
Those of us who are not traveling as part of our professional duties but are taking vacations or carrying out other air travel requirements endure the same toll on our bodies.
How Do You Beat Jet Lag?
The first port of call in your quest to defeat Jet Lag should be to try and figure out what time you are arriving at your final destination – before you depart.
If and when you establish that you will be arriving late in the afternoon or evening, you need to try and make sure that you will be able to sleep on the evening of your arrival.
Among other things, you should try and push yourself through that entire journey in the air and sleep as little as possible while in transit. Do whatever it takes to avoid falling asleep for protracted periods during that journey.
As a rule perhaps – although this will probably not be the case for everybody – try and sleep for a maximum of two hours during a 27-hour journey. It would also be prudent to include the few hours building up to your time of departure.
So, maybe calculate that during a 30-hour journey, sleep for a maximum of two hours.
It is difficult but you need to try and find a way. If you can pull that off, you will likely find that upon arrival at your final destination, you will have little to no problem falling asleep.
If you get that crucial first few hours of sleep upon arrival at your final destination, your body is likely to adapt its sleep cycle with relative ease.
When you establish that you will be arriving at your final destination in the morning, the modus operandi will naturally change. It does present somewhat of a complication but it is not something that cannot be managed either.
Simply put, you need to do the exact opposite and try to sleep as much as you conceivably can while you are in transit. This ensures that when you arrive at your final destination you are well rested.
Under these circumstances, you will arrive at your final destination feeling fully equipped to go about your daily functions – as if you had never been away at all.
Another outstanding and compelling way to adjust, when you arrive at your final destination is to try and eat your meals at the regular mealtimes for the zone that you are in.
Avoiding Jet Lag with Medicine
Modern doctors tend to have answers for everything. They also have decent remedies for Jet Lag, even though not all of them work on a case-by-case basis.
Some individuals react differently to different medications and some of those reactions will not be positive.
A very popular choice is the melatonin supplement, which is supposed to be particularly useful after skipping through time zones to the east.
Ordinarily, melatonin is a hormone produced by a gland in the brain, the purpose of which is to regulate sleep-wake cycles. You can see a great range of Melatonin here at Amazon.
It is generally used by people who are trying to find ways to fall asleep. However, the jury is out on just how effective it is with combating Jet Lag. Some people are more convinced by it than others.
The one beauty about melatonin is that it can be purchased over the counter without a prescription. Those who consume it would ordinarily do so after dark each night, about 30 minutes before you plan to hit the sack.
There can be serious side effects, so maybe before you do purchase it, make sure you are able to take it. Consult a doctor or nurse, who should be able to give you the all clear. You also do not want to be too reliant on the drug in your quest to combat Jet Lag.
If and when you do start taking melatonin, it is in your best interests to consume it straight after you arrive at your final destination and when you do take it, use it for no more than five days in the new time zone.
If you still feel like you need it after that, there is likely a problem that requires some expert intervention. If you do use melatonin you might also encounter some headaches, some dizziness and confusion, and even nausea.
The difficulty here is that the potential side effects can easily be construed as Jet Lag symptoms themselves. Again, the jury is out on the drug’s effectiveness under these circumstances.
Top Jet Lag Hacks
Some people believe it is wise to pack a lightbox with them during their travels. The objective of this move is to get in some extra light, to assist with your new wake-up time. This is something you can start doing a few days before you embark on your travels.
Something else which has been known to assist with Jet Lag adjustments is walking outside during the breakfast period at your new destination. This activity is known to assist with resetting your activity and eating schedules to local time, wherever you might be in the world.
Another activity which can assist with Jet Lag adjustment is sticking to a strict meal schedule. When you arrive at your new destination, try to eat every five hours, to keep your body clock in sync with promoting healthy sleep.
The warmer your conditions the harder sleeping tends to become. So, if you are faced with a Jet Lag scenario, it would also be prudent to try and turn up the air conditioner. Lower room temperatures are known to assist people who are struggling to sleep in general. It is also a useful hack to have for those with Jet Lag.
- Start adjusting your body clock, which is what gets affected by Jet Lag, three days before you embark on your trip. You can do that by calculating the time between home and your destination.
- Once that has been established, start adjusting your sleep schedule gradually before your trip. You should try to adjust that sleep schedule by about an hour a day. If you are feeling a touch anxious about it all, there is no harm in adjusting that sleep schedule by about 30 minutes a day. If you are flying East, you have to wake up earlier. If you are flying West, you can sleep in a little longer.
- If you have work in the morning, sleeping might not actually be an option. As an alternate plan, you can try and adjust your mealtime instead.
Plan Travel Times
Depending on where you are traveling, it can also work to take an overnight flight to wherever it is you might be going. That generally helps you adjust to Jet Lag faster. It stands to reason that because it is dark when you fly, you have a better opportunity to sleep on the flight. What you will also find is that it will generally be lighter when you arrive at your final destination. So, this allows you to make that adjustment a bit better.
Choose the Correct Seat for You
I believe that choosing the right seat for your trip will contribute to you achieving sleep. Many factors are taken into account when choosing a seat location on the plane, legroom, aisle, middle, window… If you want some help with this go check out my article which covers all you need to know about choosing a seat in economy.
If you can afford it or if your company can afford it, try and secure a business class flight. It is obviously more comfortable up there and your prospects of getting the sleep and rest you might need increase significantly.
If you are a business or sporting professional, try and arrive a day or two before your big meeting. That gives you the time you need to make a meaningful adjustment.
The same tactic can honestly be applied if you are just going on a vacation. There is no point in making that trip if you are going to be exhausted and grumpy for the duration of your stay at the final destination.
While in the Air
Things like earplugs and eye masks are very useful tools to have ahead of a long flight. They assist you with the adjustments that you need to make for your journey.
It also makes total sense to adjust your watch the moment you arrive at the airport. This helps trick you into mentally transporting yourself to your next destination, the second you hop onto that plane. Invest as much energy as possible into adjusting your body clock into the local time.
People are often advised to drink as much water as possible during a flight. The pressurized cabin air has a tendency to drain you.
Try and avoid any alcohol and also try to avoid the coffee. Water is life…and your best option on a plane.
In addition to the eye masks, earplugs and medication, it is also in your best interests to have a refillable water bottle on your flight. It is really a matter of convenience more than anything else though.
For extra tips for a comfortable flight while traveling on an airplane see my article here.
Soon after landing at your final destination, it also does not harm to go for a run. This will give you some energy and will likely help you sleep better on that first night. If you are arriving in the day, the worst thing you could possibly do is try and sleep straight away. No matter how exhausted you think you might be, this can and probably will be counterproductive.
We should probably add that while jogging is good upon arrival, you should not go jogging too close to bedtime. That complicates your sleep pattern even more.
Yoga has its uses in many aspects of life. It can be effective if you are struggling with Jet Lag issues.
When you arrive at your destination, eat what the locals are eating and have your meals when the locals have their meals. When in Rome Dear Boy, when in Rome…
It is sometimes good to start your day with a breakfast that is high in protein. Consume little snacks instead of heavy meals during the course of the day and finally, you need to avoid high-fat dinners, which are difficult to digest and make falling asleep somewhat of a nightmare.
A pair of re-timer glasses is a useful tool to have in the bag if you are somebody who travels a considerable amount. The primary objective of the glasses is to assist with light therapy. They help you re-establish a healthy sleep schedule, after travel. The suggestion is that you use those glasses for about 60 minutes every day.
Now, this can be a major adjustment to make for some, but try and have a cold shower at night, if you are having trouble with sleep. Again, cooler conditions are conducive to sleep.
If sleep does not come easy at night, you can try 20-minute power naps during the day too. They help make up for the loss of sleep. It is not ideal, especially if you work but when push comes to shove, something has to be done.
I have a great article here which will give you many tips to help you sleep in hotels.
What Are the Symptoms of Jet Lag?
If you have flown across several time zones during your journey, especially heading East, and you feel extremely exhausted at the end of your flight you are likely grappling with Jet Lag.
That is normally a good clue.
However, there are several other glaring signs that you have Jet Lag. Among them are the following:
Business and sporting professionals who have Jet Lag are likely experiencing considerable difficulty with sleep. Depending on the circumstances, they will either struggle to sleep as much as they would like and to the contrary, there are those who will struggle to stay awake.
We have already mentioned that extreme exhaustion is a good sign that you Jet Lagged but if you are feeling very tired and sleepy during the daytime, that would definitely be more compelling evidence that you have Jet Lag.
Some people just have difficulty thinking or concentrating – period. They cannot be helped. However, if you normally have a good concentration span and are a generally active individual, the sudden failure to think or concentrate is a positive sign that you have Jet Lag.
Some people with Jet Lag will encounter stomach difficulties and even experience a bout of constipation shortly after arriving at their final destination.
Accompanying this is sudden unexplained sickness and low energy levels.
Remember that after a long flight it will take time for your body to recover.
- Stay calm
- Immediately adapt to the local time
- Take in the sunshine to stay awake during the day
- Limit stimulants before your first night’s sleep
- Watch what you eat – (No stimulating or heavy food)
- Moderate exercise
- Go to bed at a reasonable hour
- Set your alarm to get up the next morning
Rinse and repeat the above for a couple of days to avoid Jet Lag.
*Remember to do the same on your return trip!
As always here’s to better sleep!