Dealing With Jet Lag
If you have done any long haul flights you have undoubtedly experienced some form of jet lag. Why do we get jet lag? Basically our internal clock finds it difficult to adjust to the new time. When you quickly cross a number of time zones the body can not catch up to adjust to new times of light, darkness and eating schedules. Sunlight greatly effects the internal clock, therefore exposing yourself to sunlight at your destination may help in adjustment.
Symptoms of Jet lag
- feeling light headed
- swollen hands and feet
- constipation or diarrhea
Water, water, water, did I mention water?
One of the most important aspects of dealing with jet lag is to stay hydrated. This means drinking lots of water before, during and after the flight. Yes this means you are going to have to get up and go to the bathroom a lot. This is a good thing to avoid another possible problem with long flights, blood clots!
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) otherwise known as “Economy Class Syndrome” is when a blood clot develops in the leg. It can occur during long flights where movement is greatly restricted. Do seat exercises, leg lifts, shoulder shrugs, get up and walk up and down the aisle. Keep your blood circulating. Wear loose and comfortable clothing.
If one of the key factors in minimizing jet lag is to stay hydrated, then don’t show up for a flight hung over and already in a dehydrated state. Do not consume alcohol on the flight, this would be totally counterproductive. Avoid caffeine and carbonated beverages as well. It is better to drink water than any other liquid such as tea, coffee or pop or even juice.
Flying eastwards or westwards, does it matter?
There is controversy whether this makes any difference in regards to dealing with jet lag. Flying in a westward direction (east to west) may cause less jet lag. The thought is that it is easier for your body to accept gaining time when you fly east to west than it is to lose time when you fly west to east.
You can try to get your body ready several days beforehand. If you are flying west then stay up later and sleep in later if possible. For flights heading east do the opposite, go to bed earlier and get up earlier.
Treat Your Body Well Before You Fly
Get a good nights sleep prior to the flight. Get plenty of exercise. Try to keep stress to a minimum. Some people swear by exercising just prior to the flight.
Adjust To The New Time Zone As Soon As Possible
Set your watch to the new time zone as soon as you start your flights. Try to adjust to your destination time while on the plane. If it is bedtime at your destination then sleep on the plane, if not then resist the urge, try to stay awake. Eat on the plane as if you are already in the new time zone. If you do eat on the flight keep it light with easy to digest foods, no heavy proteins or fats.
When you arrive at your destination sleep and eat in accordance with the new time zone. Keep the meals on the lighter side until your body adjusts. Go to bed if it is time to sleep or force yourself to stay awake until bedtime. At least stay awake to as close to bedtime as possible. Get outside into the fresh air and get some mild exercise such as walking. Although it can be difficult to do after a bunch of exhausting flights. The sooner you get your body accustomed to the new time zone the better.
Taking Medications Or Other Remedies
You can try a product called No-Jet-Lag. I haven’t personally tried it, but it seems to get rave reviews. Consult a doctor before thinking of taking any medications such as sedatives or sleeping pills. There is a lot of controversy about using these while flying. The inducement of sleep with little movement could increase the risks for blood clots. In addition if you take a sleeping pill you are not supposed to be disturbed during your sleep. This can be hard to avoid during a flight.