Monday, August 22, 2022

The Best Ways To Overcome Jet Lag


Due to all the international traveling I am doing right now, my body is undergoing a lot of jet lag, especially after flights of 10 to 15 hours length.  I just flew in from New Zealand and that was 3 hours to Australia, 13 to Los Angeles, 1.5 to San Francisco, 3.5 hours to Anchorage, and one hour to my final destination.  That is an extremely long trip but I managed a bit of sleep on the longest stretch of the trip and I spent the night in Los Angeles, to give me a bit of a break.  

I will also tell you that depending on where I'm heading, I've gotten there around 6:30 in the morning, or mid afternoon and the 6:30 arrival made life challenging since I couldn't check in till 2:00 in the afternoon.  I've learned over time, there are things I can do to make it easier to overcome jet lag. 

Jet lag happens when you travel across several time zones and your body gets out of sync. This means that your internal clock is out of whack with the local time so you find it difficult to sleep at night and stay awake during the day.  Some symptoms of jet lag include headaches, fatigue, the inability to sleep, a lack of appetite, mood swings, and your gastrointestinal system is out of whack so you are constipated or have diarrhea.

One thing is upon arrival, try to do things in the new time zone rather than operating as if you are still in your time zone.  If you have a watch that does not update automatically, do it manually but make sure all your devices that show time are set to the new time zone.  Plan to eat and go to bed based on your new time zone. 

Try to plan your actual travel activities so that it matches up with your new time zone. If it is night in your new time zone and you are scheduled to arrive in the early morning, try to sleep at night.  If your flight corresponds with the day of your new location and you are due to arrive in the late afternoon or evening, you want to stay awake.  It is strongly recommended that you do not take a nap if you arrive during the day because it may make it difficult to sleep at night but I've discovered a short 20 to 30 minute nap often helps especially if I arrived extremely tired.

I realize that it is extremely difficult for some people to sleep on an airplane.  Some things to do include bring noise canceling headphones or ear plugs or have something that provides white noise for you only.  Use eye masks, blankets and pillows.  I have a coat that folds up into a pillow that I use because it is comfortable and can be used in two different ways.  If you carry a blanket, make sure it is one that can fold up into a small package and fits into your carryon.  

Make sure you drink lots of water throughout the flight. It is easy to take an empty water bottle through security and fill it up at the fountains.  If you don't have space for a regular water bottle, they now have the fold up ones that take very little space. One way to counter being tired is to get out and walk about because light can wake up your internal clock so you feel less tired. Light is what signals your body to be awake so take a nice walk around your neighborhood and enjoy exploring rather than trying to take a nap.

Although it is recommended you do not drink coffee or tea on the plane trip, feel free to have a cup or two when you get to your designation to help you be more alert and focused. Then have less caffeine the closer you get to bedtime so you are able to go to bed at a nice hour.  When it is bed time, check the thermostat so the room temperature is not too hot or cold and check the clocks in the room to make sure they don't go off at a weird hour.  I forgot to do that one time and the alarm went off at 4 am.  I've never forgotten since then.

Take some melatonin just before bed so you sleep better since melatonin helps your body more tired.  Do not take more than 5mg for a dose. You might also talk to your doctor about a sleeping aid but be aware that some of them have serious side effects.  Get a suggestion from your doctor for a good one.

 They say it takes one day per time zone for your body to adjust to the new time zone so if you move two time zones, it take two days to recover.  One way to cut down on the multiple time zones is to break it up so instead of flying from Los Angeles directly to Australia, take a few days in Hawaii before going to Australia.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  

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