Flying off to a destination, regardless of whether it’s for work or recreation, is always an exciting endeavor. You know what’s not exciting, though – the feeling of nausea, tiredness, and anxiety paired with the complete inability to stay awake. You guessed it – jet lag is what we’re talking about!
If you are a frequent traveler and the airplane is your main bud, you already know the symptoms of jet lag and how real they are. They are so real that, in fact, scientists have actually estimated that it would take about one entire day to recover.
Let’s be honest – no one wants and, often, you just can’t afford, to lose a whole day after your flight. This is why we’ve come up with a few comprehensive tips that you can take advantage of to ease your jet lag symptoms after a long flight. Let’s have a look.
What Causes Jet Lag?
Starting off with the roots of the problem, jet lag is caused by a mismatch between our external and internal clocks. Our circadian rhythm, which is also known as our internal clock, is the well-known biological cycle of all the various processes which have taken place over a short time span of the last 24 hours.
There are three factors which are going to impact your circadian rhythm the most and they include light, time and melatonin.
With this in mind, jet lag originates in the nerve cell of our hypothalamus. This is the region of our brains which is responsible for regulating sleep, hunger, appetite, temperature as well as other processes which are usually encountered through your circadian rhythm. This is the part which responds quite slowly to changes in our external time as well as light levels, hence the unpleasant symptoms of jet lag in people.
11 Easy Ways to Avoid Jet Lag
1. Ease up your schedule
Being able to prepare for a longer flight destination usually means that you can start your holiday in a fresh manner, rather than feeling fatigued. If you are a person who has a crazy-busy schedule at home, try to relax it a bit during the days right before your flight. This is going to allow your body to adjust quicker to the change in the new local time zone & pace, hence reducing the unwanted symptoms of jet lag. This will enable you to start your trip with a serious advantage to stay awake.
2. Sleep tight!
A lot of people & travelers give in to the common anxiety and end up sleeping just a few hours before their flights. Whether it’s because of a deliberate attempt to tire yourself significantly so you can sleep during the flight or it’s the pre-holiday jitters, this is a big mistake. This is the last minute change to your routine & clock which would cause a lot of complications later on. Get a nice, solid 8 hours of sleep to ensure jet lag is handled appropriately when you sleep on the plane.
3. Avoid night arrivals
If it is possible, of course, make sure to opt for a flight which is going to be landing when the sun light is still shining. You will be having a full day of light exposure ahead of you and, as we mentioned, this is one of the three factors which determine the intensity of jet lag in a new time zone among people.
4. Split Your Trip
You can build in a quick stopover (like this 10-hour layover in Seoul), and your body's clock would be allowed an additional amount of time to adapt to the brand new routine, and stay awake. This is also likely to discount the price of the airfare so you could easily kill two birds with one stone.
5. Be plane savvy
A380s and A350s are undoubtedly the best choices for travelers to beat the heavy head upon arrival. This is because they are equipped with high-tech electronics such as humidification systems which would keep the moisture in the air as well as comprehensive LED lighting systems which are definitely capable of creating as much as 16.7 million shades of color. This will simulate the natural phase of the day light at the given moment, helping you get rid of jet lag as much as it can in your new local time zone.
6. Stay off the bar
While you might be tempted to start off your holiday with a quick liquor, the effects of alcohol at higher altitudes are going to increase the overall feeling of fatigue. They will also cause you to dehydrate, making your challenge even tougher – this is something that you ought to take into account.
7. Stay off the sleeping pills
A lot of people & travelers rely on sleeping pills which would allow them to sleep through the entire flight, hence making the trip less tiring. That’s a definitive no-no. They are far from being worth it. The only thing they’d do is to leave you with a fuzzy and light head when you land, amplifying the already challenging effects of jet lag in your internal clock. The best choice of freebies in-flight is the hot water. You can bring a pack of herbal tea and make your flight a bit more delicious, so to speak.
8. Coffee is also bad
Beverages which are heavy in caffeine are also quite harmful to jet lag. They are artificial stimulants which are going to impair your ability to get sleep naturally, increasing the overall recovery time you’d need . Drinking lots of water, on the other hand, will seriously offset the harmful effects tiredness effects.
9. Keep on moving
Move around in your seat regularly to make sure that there is proper blood flow. It’s quite easy, really. You can also invest in a quick pair of flight sock which would minimize the risk of getting DVT, and they would also improve your overall circulation.
10. Nutrition is key
Another jet lag tip, which some may consider rather extreme, would be to eat three meals a day with the new time zone alignment. Even if this means that you should be munching on cornflakes at 11 pm, it would definitely help you out.
11. Set Your watch
The first thing you ought to do when you get on the plane is to set your watch to the time that your destination is. This will affect your psychology, getting your aligned, and minimizing jet lag. Don’t do this in advance, though, as the only thing you’d be left with is a ridiculous excuse for actually missing your flight schedule.
Why Jet Lag is Worse From East to West in the US?
There is one very common expression in the US which goes like “West is Best, East is Beast”. In the context of jet lag, it is absolutely true. This is because as you travel from east to west, you will end up trying to get some sleep at the same time as your body is actually waking up. This means that you are forced to start getting up at a time which feels like the middle of the night. This is the main reason why you usually feels worse when you are traveling from the east to the west.
As you can see, there are quite a lot of things that you can do in order to fight off or significantly reduce the harmful effects which are usually associated with jet lag. They might be particularly challenging and unpleasant and could easily ruin your entire day. If you are on vacation, that’s the last thing you’d want and if you are on a business trip, you simply may not be able to afford it.
Follow above tips to prevent & ease your symptoms of jet lag, and you would be a little bit closer to feeling fresher and relaxed as you land at your new destination. This would allow you to get on your feet quicker and you’d be able to carry out your tasks or kick-off your holiday in a far more enjoyable manner!
Author: Sleep Advisor
Our team covers as many areas of expertise as we do time zones, but none of us started here as a so-called expert on sleep. What we do share is a willingness to ask questions (lots of them), seek experts, and dig deep into conventional wisdom to see if maybe there might be a better path towards healthy living. We apply what we learn not only to our company culture, but also how we deliver information to our over 12.7M readers.
Sleep research is changing all the time, and we are 100% dedicated to keeping up with breakthroughs and innovations. You live better if you sleep better. Whatever has brought you here, we wish you luck on your journey towards better rest.