The dreaded jet lag… Why do some of us suffer from it and some don’t? Why is it that certain trips affect us more than others? What is the deal with jet lag?
Well, I have done the research & together with my own personal experience from many years of travel I have put together the answers to these questions and tips on how to minimise it!
What is jet lag & how does it affect us?
Mr (or Mrs) google had this to say: Also called flight fatigue, jet lag is a temporary disorder that causes fatigue, insomnia, and other symptoms as a result of air travel across time zones. It is considered a circadian rhythm sleep disorder, which is a disruption of the internal body clock.
In my own words I describe jet lag as a disruption to my sleep patterns, I am often irritable & feel tired or fatigued. On the odd occasion I have also felt a bit disorientated.
I know for me it is always made worse when I am stressed or worried about the trip, flight, destination etc. Any form of stress only increases my symptoms of jet lag.
Research shows that the older a person is, the more severe their jet lag symptoms generally are and the longer they will take to get their body clocks back into sync. A child’s symptoms will usually be much milder, and they will recover faster.
How to minimise your jet lag:
- Drink the water & not the wine
Drink as much water as you possibly can before, during & after the flight. Hydration is a huge key to minimising your jet lag. The dry cabin of the aircrafts causes dehydration. Water is a better choice than tea, coffee, soda or juice. Unfortunately alcohol is of no use in combating this, it will only cause further dehydration. Try to save the wine or beer to enjoy on arrival.
- Exercise regularly
Get plenty of exercise in the days leading up to your journey. Keeping yourself fit & health is a great way to prevent jet lag.
Whilst on the plane try to get up & move around often. Rotate your ankles & wrists whilst seated. These small exercises will help to decrease the risk of swelling & discomfort whilst being seated.
If you have a stop-over & are able to get off the plane, do some walking around to stretch your body out.
- Sleeping aids
Some people swear by using sleeping pills on long haul flights. This is a risky one… Research shows these can have some negative side effects so DO YOUR RESEARCH before choosing to take any form of sleeping aid.
I have used these myself on some long haul flights & although they help with increased levels of sleep they do come with a drowsy side effect afterwards & I also noticed they can have a nasty after taste in the mouth.
Take with you some ear plugs & an eye mask as aids for a natural sleep.
If your flight has a stopover & you have the option to take a shower, use it! Taking a shower not only freshens you up but it also gets the muscles & circulation going again.
Once at your destination if time permits grab a shower before heading out for the day.
- Avoid stress & worry (where possible)
Ensure you have all of your business & personal stuff in order prior to travel. Being as organised as possible & taking the pressure of yourself can really help in minimising your jet lag.
- Adjust to the new time zone
Once you arrive at your destination adjust to the time zone straight away. Do not give into the temptation of an afternoon (or morning) nap. Push through any tiredness & adjust your body clock to the new time zone (and go to bed early if need be!). By taking naps you will only further increase jet lag & throw your body clock out. It can also be very challenging to wake up from the nap as your body wants to keep sleeping…
If you are a person who often suffers the affects of jet lag consider stopping somewhere along the way for a couple of days.
In a recent conversation with fellow travellers we all agreed that our jet lag is worse on the return journey.
I think this comes down to the mindset shift. We start to think about what we have to do when we get home. For example, all the washing/laundry, going back to work, grocery shopping, going back to the 9-5 grind. We start to increase our stress & anxiety levels.
I often increase my alcohol consumption on the return journey to compensate for thinking about all of the above & therefore becoming more dehydrated… I can see how this cycle goes!
Being aware of your thoughts & the stress/anxiety levels for your return journey can really help to aid in combating the jet lag. Have something to look forward to when coming home – generate a positive way to look at your return journey & minimise the symptoms.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post.
Wishing you safe and happy travels!
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