Are you a frequent flyer? Are you about to head to a distant land in a different time zone? Then you need to read this.
Jet lag is experienced by many people who’ve got the travel bug, as well as business travellers who jet set from one country to another. It’s annoying and can really mess with your schedule if you’re falling asleep during meetings or are wide awake in the middle of the night.
Basically, jet lag, also known as desynchronisation, is what happens when your body cannot adapt to the change in time you’ve experienced – sort of what happens when we switch to summer time and feel somewhat confused because it’s earlier than it should be.
But fully fledged jet leg can be quite difficult to deal with, as it can lead to headaches, dehydration, fatigue and even insomnia. In fact, in its stripped down form, jet lag is a temporary sleep disorder and it takes your body one day per time zone travelled to recover.
So … how can you minimise its effects?
Plan Ahead: This may come as a surprise but there are online jet lag calculators that can help you determine what times you will be asleep in, in a few days’ or weeks’ time. These can help you figure out the times when you should start laying low, ie. working from home, or not doing anything strenuous, in anticipation for the big change in time.
Drink Lots of Water: Start drinking more water two to three days before your flight and drink loads while you’re in the air. This helps prevent dehydration and lessen your risk of getting headaches – which are two of the worst symptoms of jet lag.
Take Something Comforting From Home: Pack your own pillow or your favourite PJs. This will help your mind relax when you reach your destination and, hopefully, make sleeping even easier.
Eat Wisely: Don’t consume anything heavy or spicy before you catch your flight. Your body will already be dealing with a lot – a change in time, a change in pressure, a change in altitude – and it won’t be able to handle the breakdown of heavy foods, as well. So eat sensibly and save your appetite for when you get to your destination of choice.
Don’t Give In: If, when you get there, it’s the morning, don’t go to sleep! Instead, take a 30-minute nap and head out into the sunlight as this helps your body realign itself with the current state of things. It also helps to move your watch back or forth – depending on where you’re going – just before you get on the plane so you won’t get the full shock once you land.
Ultimately, however, the truth is that jet lag cannot be wholly avoided. The change in time is too cataclysmic for our bodies to just ignore, so make it easier on yourself and plan ahead.
Do you have any other advice for people who are going to travel through time zones? Let us know in the comments section below.