Anyone who has gone on a long haul flight will have had to deal with the effects of Jet Lag. These can include sleep disturbances, poor concentration, increased fatigue, irritability, headaches, and digestive problems including indigestion and changes in bowel movement.
Jet Lag is essentially produced when we try to adjust our body clock or Circadian Rhythm too quickly. This clock controls our sleep and wake time, our digestion and all of our internal systems. Our body clock is designed to adjust by two minutes a day , and when required, can cope with up to an hours movement a day. However, anything beyond this amount gives it too much to deal with and we then get all the symptoms of Jet Lag.
Our problem starts because our body clock is still set in the time zone we have just left and not to the new time zone in the destination we are trying to adjust to. The rule of thumb is that the more time zones we cross the harder it is to adjust.
Here are my Top 10 Tips on how to cope with Jet Lag
1) Adjust to the new time zone before you leave
By adjusting to the new time zone before we leave we can ease our body clocks into the new time zone When travelling East this means going to bed earlier, getting up earlier and even eating earlier. If travelling West everything shifts later.
The key to making the adjustment more manageable is to spread the required time shift over several days. Allow up to a maximum of an hour a day, moving your bedtime and wake time closer to your destination’s time as much as you can before you leave. This helps to reset your internal body clock to the destination’s time zone ahead of the journey. In turn this will reduce your symptoms of jet lag.
Most of us find that the best way to travel is East to West, as our body clocks find it easier to extend the day than shorten it.
Don’t forget to adjust your meals as well as your sleep pattern to make the adjustment easier in your new time zone.
2) Relax for 2 days before you fly and pack early
Try to pack your case 2 days before you leave and keep your life as relaxed as possible during this time. This means that you arrive at the airport fully rested for your flight.
3) Set your watch to your new time zone as soon as you get on the plane
Think forward not back, this helps you get into the ‘new time zone’. Doing this also prompts you adjust meals for the new time zone too.
4) Think Water
Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated, and avoid caffeine and alcohol. It’s always best to drink as much water on the flight as possible as dehydration is a symptom of jet lag. For those who plan to sleep within 5 hours of getting off the plane avoid all caffeinated drinks (and products). In addition, alcohol is best avoided as it can lead to dehydration.
5) Make yourself comfortable
If you suffer poor circulation, DVT socks can be used as they improve circulation, which is a side effect of Jet Lag. Equally getting up from your seat and walking around is a great way to ease your aches and pains from sitting too long.
6) Get your body adjusted to local time as quickly as possible
Adjust meal times to match your new time zone as soon as you can. Change bedtimes and wake times too. Avoid taking a nap if you are trying to stay awake, and get out into the sunlight and fresh air instead. However, if you can’t manage to keep awake until nightfall, avoid interrupting your main sleep by limiting your nap to 20 minutes.
7) Adjust the light to your new time zone as soon as possible
If you are arriving in the evening, dim the lights and have a light meal only. When you wake in the morning, get outside as soon as you can, as it helps to set your body clock to the new time zone.
8) A new bed and the first night effect
The first night effect is our natural alertness when sleeping in a new bed, the stress of which can keep you awake. Using a familiar pillow or even a blanket from home can help.
9) The on-call effect
Anticipating that something (such as noise from a hotel corridor) or someone will wake you up (a phone call in the night) is all part of the on-call effect. Solutions include checking your accommodation has black out blinds to block out the light, and having calls handled by voice mail. Bringing earplugs and night masks with you can also help.
10) Take Probiotics to support your gut flora
Jet Lag throws our gut bacteria (our digestive system’s inner eco-system or microbiome) out of balance. Take a probiotic, as this can get your system back on track.