How to avoid jet lag
Jet lag can occur when people travel rapidly from east to west, or west to east on a plane. It is a physiological condition which upsets our body’s circadian rhythms. The result: a collection of symptoms that may include
- loss of appetite
- reduced concentration
- gastrointestinal distress
- joint swelling and stiffness
- muscle pain and stiffness
Here are some tips to fight jet lag.
Stay hydrated. This is the most important part of avoiding jetlag. The humidity in the aircraft is around 15%. Compare that with the humidity in the world’s driest place, the Atacama Desert, at around 16%. Passengers start to become dehydrated by the time the plane taxis to the runway. Leave your water bottle unopened until you pass through security. Then drink all 8 oz and refill it before boarding. An added benefit – all that water in your system will force you out of your seat and down the aisle.
Reset your internal clock. The moment the flight attendants announce the time in your new destination, set your watch. This makes it easier to force yourself to stay awake if you’re arriving in the evening or to catch a nap if you’re arriving in the morning.
Choose overnight flights. You’ll have dinner at a normal time and be much more likely to sleep than on an afternoon flight. Depending on the length of the flight and the number of time zones you cross, you’ll arrive at your destination in the morning or afternoon. This is the best way to replicate your normal schedule, and it’ll be easier for you to reset your clock.
Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Wear loose clothing and swap your shoes for socks as you settle into your seat. Those socks with treads on the bottom are best because they provide traction and double as hotel room slippers.
Watch your back. An inflatable neck pillow can help prevent neck pain and encourage sleep. If you suffer from backaches or shoulder pains after being seated for a long time there are some heated pads you can find at the drugstores that will help you relieve the discomfort.
Sleep. Some people swear by melatonin, a hormone involved in regulating sleep cycles. If you opt for sleeping pills you need to consider the pill’s duration versus the length of your flight. With either option you need to try them before the flight. You don’t want to feel groggy when you arrive. An eyemask and a set of ear plugs are very helpful. The ear plugs help to avoid tinnitus, the ear ringing that many of us experience following hours of roaring engine sounds.
Eat carefully. Pressurized cabins can have odd effects on your gastro intestinal system. Avoid gas producing foods preflight, such as apples, apricots, beans, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. Pack high fiber snacks in your carry-on, such as dried fruit, nuts and whole grain granola bars. Dehydration and lack of activity can also often result in post-flight constipation, even among those who never experience it at home.
Keep moving. Blood clots are a serious health threat on long flights. Force yourself to get up and move around the cabin on a regular basis. Flex your legs and rotate your ankles while you’re seated. Do knee bends while waiting in line for the lavatory. Spend layovers walking as much as you can through the airport.
Stay out. Light is essential for resetting your internal clock. If you arrive at your destination during the day, get outside to take in the natural daylight.
Warm up. Some of the newest research indicates that elevating your temperature can help reset your circadian rhythms. Exercising, grabbing a sauna or relaxing in a warm bath helps that process.
Although jet lag affects most of us some these tips will help you reduce any of these symptoms.