No More Jet Lag!
If you travel overseas frequently, you will know how important it is to try to reduce jet lag as much as possible, as it may ruin your nicely planned vacation or that oh-so-important meeting.
Jet lag happens when your sleep-wake patterns are disturbed, usually as a result from travelling across time zones. It can also be from doing shift work at night . The symptoms are drowsiness, feeling tired, irritable, lethargic, and slightly disoriented.
Everybody suffers of jet lag to a certain degree, when travelling through over three or more time zones. There are the few lucky ones, who will adjust really quickly and the rest who usually struggles more, the further away from home you are.
My poor other half, for example will travel long-haul at least once a month and has still not managed to get a grip on his sleeping patterns: he will struggle on the way out and also once he is back again.
I consider myself amongst the fortunate ones who can adapt fairly quickly, however, I do have certain hacks that I stick to, in order to make it easier. So here they are:
West is best – East is beast
- Remember that it is always easier to adjust if you go west, as you will simply go to sleep “later”. It is in the other direction that most people struggle with most, as it seems to be more difficult for our bodies to adapt to shorter days, suddenly go to sleep earlier and wake up in the middle of the night.
- Try to get as much rest the days/night before you head off: starting your journey already tired will certainly not help.
- Set off on the time zone of your destination: on the plane before take off, set your watch to the time of your destination and then try to adjust your rhythms immediately accordingly. If it is night over where you are going to, try to sleep. If its day, don´t d so.
- Don´t overdo caffeine and alcohol on the plane and once you arrive. Stick to water and get plenty of it in.
- Once you are at your destination, try to be awake during the day and sleep only at night and don´t nap during the day. The exception: if you have not slept for the past 24 hours, then by all means try to get at least some sleep, even if it is via power-napping.
- Take melatonin before bedtime, it will help you fall asleep naturally.
- Exercise and get fresh air: even if you are feeling jet lagged and not up to it. But keep it light, don´t overdo it.
- Eat healthily and don´t abuse sugary stuff, it will only give you highs and lows
- Try to get natural light during the main hours of the day: go for a walk or a jog outside
- If you wake up in the middle of the night try to get back to sleep, don´t start getting active thinking it is morning, although your body may do so.
Don´t worry too much if you suffer form jet lag, it will pass. But remember that you are probably not at your best: ie be careful if you need to make important decisions or navigate through difficult situations. Tale longer, if necessary to evaluate things and watch your behaviour, as you may be over reacting due to the exhaustion and lack of sleep. Try to take it easy during the first days when you are still adjusting.