Jet lag is a common occurance after a long haul flight, especially when your destination is in a completely different time zone. Here are some ways to prevent and ease the effects of jet lag.
1. Keep Hydrated
Almost all of the symptoms of jet lag, including the dreaded disorientation and mental fog, are also the symptoms of dehydration. The experts say that by the time your body gives off the signal that you’re thirsty, you are already dehydrated. For at least a few days before the scheduled flight, make sure to drink the required daily eight 8oz glasses of water. Don’t overdo the water; the daily 8 is sufficient. Keep the hydration going while up in the air as well. The humidity levels in a plane can drip down to around 10%, which is the same humidity level as a desert. Frequent drinks during the flight are essential.
Photo Source: Andrei Z
2. Get Proper Rest – Before, During and After the Flight
Skimping on sleep before the flight does funny things to the circadian rhythm of the body, and not for the better. An individual’s normal sleep schedule should be kept as stable as possible. Keeping the body relaxed and rested will make transitions much easier.
3. Embrace the Sun
If the destination is sunny, one of the best ways to adapt to the new time zone is by sunning. The moment the sun touches the skin, the body aligns itself with this new information. Even something as simple as a small light on the back of the knee is enough to make the body adapt and become more alert in test subjects who were blindfolded and unable to see the light with their eyes.
4. Honor Your Routines – On the New Schedule
As soon as the plane leaves the ground, one should set their watch to the local timezone of their destination and start living by that time immediately. If you always brush your teeth at 10:20PM, do so while on the plane. Read your books and drink your coffee by the new time zone. Commit to living in the time zone fully and it will soon seem normal.
5. Avoid Alcohol, Caffeine and New Supplements
Stay as far away from alcohol as possible for at least a few days prior to the flight, and skip the complimentary in flight drinks. Nothing dehydrates the body more than processing alcohol, and dehydration is a bad, bad thing that contributes to jet lag significantly. Caffeine is permissible, but should be consumed according to the time zone one is heading to. If it’s midnight in Hong Kong, and if Hong Kong is your destination, coffee probably isn’t the best idea. Also, avoid any new supplements. Many supplements claim to be the cure for jet lag, but none of them can deliver on this claim.
6. Live Like a Local – No Napping!
As a general rule, if one wouldn’t do it at home, why do it while away? If it’s 3PM in Sydney, don’t nap if napping is not your daily habit. Tough it out and live like a local, only sleeping when locals do.
7. Don’t Worry
Stressing over whether or not one will experience jet lag serves to make it a self fulfilling prophesy. Take whatever steps possible to prevent jet lag, but then relax and let go. By letting it be, stress levels are dramatically reduced, which in turn helps with jet lag.
Cecelia Owens loves traveling and is a freelance writer for a top South African flight comparison site BestFlights, offering the lowest prices on domestic and international flights departing from South Africa.