How to Deal with Jet Lag

September 23, 2012

If you’ve travelled to the other side of the world by plane, then you must know what jet lag is. For those who don’t, jet lag is the term used for a condition of changing your sleep/wake cycle after travelling through different time zones.

Some people have a fear of flying, but others find jet lag even more difficult to deal with than flying itself.

Jet lag gives us the feeling of heavy shoulders and excessive headaches. We may become so disoriented that even simple things like reading, writing or even having a quick chat becomes difficult. You immune system also takes a hit when experiencing jet lag, making you more susceptible to catching colds or sore throat.

Leaving On a Jet Plane

According to NASA, a one hour gap is equivalent to one day adaption in the new time zone. For instance, if there is a three hours gap from your previous time zone to your present time zone, it would take you around three days to normalize your sleep/wake cycle and get rid of jet lag.

This is, of course, just a rough approximation of jet lag recovery time. If you’re used to long-haul travelling, your body will be able to adapt to new time zones more easily. For first-timers however, it might take more than a week for you to fully cope with the new time zone. Ironically, children are more sensitive when it comes to sleeping but they are less affected by jet lag. This is because they are more adaptive and don’t have a rigid schedule of activities unlike adults. People who love to sleep have also been found to be more adaptive as they can easily cope with their sleeping adjustment. Moreover, passengers who sit at first class are less likely to experience jetlag than those who sit at the back of the plane, the latter part is usually more cramped and has less air.

Coffee or Tea? Try Water

Some planes offer alcoholic drinks for their passengers. Prevent yourself from drinking before the flight or while travelling because alcohol may give you a hangover and increase your probability to get jet lag. It could also make you more confused when you land – imagine being disoriented from travelling through a different time zone, magnified by wooziness from the alcohol – not a good combination. It’s also better if you stay away from caffeine because it will make you on edge and awake during the flight. Instead of drinking alcohol or coffee, why not drink water? It’s important to keep yourself hydrated, especially when you’re travelling more than 25,000 feet above sea level.

It’s also advisable to get off the plane whenever it lands for stopovers. Jump around, take off your shoes, or take a stroll so you could exercise and stretch your sore muscles. While walking around, try to look for something that could serve as a souvenir for you to remember the place.

Preparation is Key

Prepare everything you need for the trip weeks or even months before your flight. Accomplish business proposals, meeting information, and other important files so you will not be stressed out in the plane. Get a good night’s sleep and exercise regularly even before your trip – you need to be as healthy as possible because you’ll be exposing your body to jet lag.

Sleeping Pills are a No-No

Moreover, try to get more sleep when travelling, but it’s not advisable to take sleeping pills. In fact, sleeping pills could pose serious health risks if you will travel for more than 2 hours. Because of the cramped space in the plane, your body will only be able to make small movements while sleeping. If aggravated by sleeping pills, small movements may trigger blood clotting and tense muscle movements, causing your veins to constrict and prevent blood circulation which blocks your air and may cause stroke, difficulty in breathing or death.

If the natural remedies that we’ve recommended so far don’t work for you, there are medications that you can take to prevent jet lag. Consult your physician for the appropriate pills that you can take. If it’s too late to prevent jet lag however, and you’re suffering from insomnia due to the change in time zone, try out these tips on how to fight insomnia. Don’t stress yourself out about the prospect of having jet lag – sit back, relax, keep hydrated, and have a safe flight!