Jetlag is a problem that a lot of travelers have to deal with when crossing multiple time zones—it disrupts the natural circadian rhythm and messes up the natural sleeping and eating schedules. Common issues one experiences when having jetlag is sleepiness and lethargy during the day, irritability, fatigue, indigestion and constipation, loss of focus and concentration, and insomnia. A common misconception among people is that jetlag is unavoidable, but actually there are simple ways to avoid jetlag that are also effective.
Avoid Jetlag Without Drugs
While a lot of travelers do rely on sleeping pills and melatonin supplements to get by during flights, there are ways to avoid it without any drugs. A lot of doctors don’t recommend the use of sleeping pills, especially if you have not tested its effects on you at home first. These methods are healthier, won’t give you any unpleasant side effects, and worth considering to help you avoid unpleasant jetlag symptoms.
The worst jetlag I’ve ever had was going from London to New Zealand, a 36 hour flight east. Now what does it matter that it was a flight going east?
A huge matter, it makes almost all the difference between severe jetlag and no jetlag – although we didn’t know that back then. We could choose to go either west via Los Angeles, or east via Hong Kong. The one going east was cheaper and shorter, so we chose that one.
If we would have gone west our experience with jetlag would most likely have been different. Jetlag tends to be a problem if four or more time zones are crossed, and the effects are generally worse travelling eastwards than westwards. This is because the body copes better with a lengthening day than a shortening day.
Simple Ways to Avoid Jetlag Without Drugs
Natural Ways To Avoid Jetlag
Prepare your body clock days before your departure
Adjust your sleeping schedule for each day a few hours more and more in the days leading up to your departure. This will help you ease into your natural sleep cycle once you land. Adjust your meal schedules as well.
Choose your flight arrival wisely
It’s best to arrive at your destination in the morning or in the afternoon, because this is the best time of day that can help you adjust to your new schedule. Opt for overnight flights as well. Travel – A Little At A Time – Make stopovers on your way.
Stay for a while in Hong Kong before continuing, this makes it both easier to cope with jet lag as well as long flights. I’d actually prefer a 15 hour flight, a few nights in a cool city, and then another 15 hours. It’s more fun that way as well.
Keep yourself hydrated
It’s easy to lose sight of your water intake when dealing with the stress of traveling. During long flights, it’s important you stay hydrated by drinking a couple of ounces of water, at least 8 ounces for each hour. Don’t wait to get thirsty, and just keep the flow going. This will help your body adjust.
Drink But Stay Sober – Jetlag effects are also generally made worse by dehydration, caffeine and alcohol, which put stress on the body and increase fatigue. Have you ever seen really drunk people and found it weird that they got so drunk only by a few of those tiny ‘plane-sized’ bottles? When flying, it takes a lot less to get drunk. Having one glass of wine on a flight is the same as having two glasses on land. So keep hydrated, but with non-alcoholic drinks.
Keep your skin and eyes moisturized
The dry cabin air can also affect your skin, so it’s important to moisturize while on the plane. Pack with you some moisturizing facial wipes, or a facial hydrating spray so you can regularly spritz yourself every hour on board. To prevent dry eyes, eye drops will also help give you more comfort.
Move your body
Don’t be too shy to stand up and get some body stretches. Moving your body is essential during long flights. Rotate your ankles every now and then, and stretch your legs and arms.
Try to get a short walk every now and then inside the cabin to stimulate blood flow and avoid deep vein thrombosis (blood clots).
Avoid caffeine and alcohol
Coffee, sodas, alcohol and energy drinks should be highly avoided. These drinks will only make your body feel worse, as the caffeine will hinder you from getting the proper rest you need before you get off on the plane.
It’s best to eat high-fiber, nutritious food while in flight, such as nuts and granola bars, so you can avoid constipation when you reach your destination. Avoid foods that can give you gas. Do eat at the right time too, according to the mealtime of the time zone of your destination. This helps your appetite adjust easier.
Set your clock to your destination’s time zone
While on the plane, you should adjust your phone and your watch clocks to reflect that of your destination. This helps you determine what to do when you’re in flight (for sleeping and mealtimes), because you will want to follow the time there while you’re on the plane already. This also puts you in the right mindset already, and prevents the feeling of confusion and irritability once you get on land, because you already know what to expect based on the time of day it is there.
Get some rest on the plane
Earphones, earplugs, sleeping masks, pillows and blankets will make you feel more comfortable on the flight, and having plenty of rest while on the plane will reduce your fatigue once you land. Consider bringing your own neck pillow as well, so you’ll be able to get a better quality of sleep on board.
However, it’s ideal if you follow the sleep schedule of your destination whilst on the plane. For long flights across multiple time zones, train your body and sleep when it’s time for sleeping. Short naps are also encouraged to help you feel more relaxed. Sit In The Middle Of The Plane – To prevent motion sickness, move to the center of the plane where it tends to be more stable. I hope you find some of these natural prevention to be helpful and that you can implement these simple tips on your next overseas trip.
Use an eyemask and ear plugs
These will not only make you sleep more soundly, but also it will prevent you from experiencing tinnitus (ringing in your ears) after the flight. Once you land, it is of utmost importance that you try to follow the schedule of your new time zone. Here are more ways to help you prevent symptoms of jet lag from creeping in.
Get some sun and get busy
Upon landing, it’s best to go out in the outdoors the sooner you can, because the sun will definitely communicate to your body. It will help you stay awake if you should be sleeping at that time in your home country. The sun’s rays will help in resetting your body clock as well. Doing some light exercises such as walking or jogging will also help your body feel better.
Eat on schedule
Even if you don’t feel hungry, try as much as possible to eat even a light meal during your destination’s meal time. If you arrive your destination in the morning, a protein-packed breakfast will help you get all the extra nutrients and energy you’ll need in getting through the rest of the day.
Sleep on schedule
Try your best to sleep at the right time. This might entail trying to stay awake until you reach bedtime, or perhaps the opposite way around, trying to sleep earlier than you usually would. A cup of calming tea can help you feel relaxed and ready for bedtime, while a fresh apple can naturally help you stay awake until bedtime without the crashing effects that a cup of coffee can bring. Plan your activities well during the first few days upon arriving so you don’t end up stretching your energy too thin.
Jetlag really is something that can be managed and avoided, even without the use of sleeping pills and melatonin supplements. Following these simple ways to avoid jetlag can definitely help you look and feel your best in your new destination, and allow you to go about your business in your peak performance.
(photo credit: 1 – 2)