Generally, our bodies are programmed to do a continuous routine (e.g. eating and sleeping) within a 24-hour period. Our body gets out of sync when we travel long distances at high speeds, and cross into different time zones.
If you Googled the word jet lag you may find that the definition is “extreme tiredness and other physical effects felt by a person after a long flight across several time zones.” Some of the more serious side effects include: fatigue, indigestion, loss of appetite, concentration issues, etc.
Some people take more time to adjust to jet lag than others, especially those who normally following a strict eating and sleeping schedule 7 days a week. The more of a fixed routine you have, the tougher it is to break that routine. Those of us (yes, myself included) who have an erratic schedule anyway, may not be as bothered by jet lag.
There are ways to reduce these effects to help you adjust to your current time zone more quickly. Today, I will introduce some tips that will help you with to cope with jet lag.
On a side note, personally, I have generally coped well with jet lag. If you follow some of my tips, I am sure that you will have an easier time as well.
Prior to Travelling
Though some people say that it is better to stay up before travelling, to pre-adjust to the next time zone, it is actually a really bad idea. The best thing that you can do for yourself is to be as well rested as possible before you head to the airport. You want to go in with more energy.
Already it is less comfortable to sleep on the plane, rather than your own bed, so even if you sleep a full 8 hours on the plane, you are not getting as proper as rest as you would at home.
Planning Your Schedule
It is generally easier to force yourself to stay awake, rather than to force yourself to sleep. What I mean is, plan your trip so that you land during day time at your destination. This way, when you arrive, all you need to do is stay awake until it is an appropriate time to go to bed.
Conversely, if you arrive at your destination late at night, you should be going to bed, but you may end up being too awake. This will make it harder to adjust to the new time zone. This is why I suggest that it is easier to push yourself to stay awake rather than to force yourself to sleep.
For example, let’s say you arrive at your destination at 11:00am local time, even though you may be really tired, push yourself to stay awake until 9:00pm onward and then go to bed. Once you head to bed, you can easily get a full 10 to 11 hours of sleep, wake up at 7:00am or 8:00am and you should be fairly refreshed for the next day.
On the Flight
Of course it is best to be able to fly First or Business class to make your trip more comfortable. If you end up in economy, there is nothing wrong with that, there are still ways to make your trip feel more comfortable.
Basically, you just want to make your trip as comfortable as possible so that you can get as good a sleep as possible on the plane. The other two key things you will want to do is constantly stay hydrated (with water, not alcohol or coffee) and move around to keep your blood circulation going.
Arriving at your Destination
Assuming that you took my advice and arrived during the day, one of the first things you will want to do is eat a good meal when you arrive. You will need to stay awake anyway, so refuel yourself and try to stick to your routine hours of eating. For example, if you arrive at 11:00am, and you normally eat lunch at 12:00pm and dinner at 6:00pm, then stick with those times at your new destination. Get your routine back up and running as soon as possible.
You will want to avoid heading straight to the hotel and sleeping during the entire day. That will really mess up your day. This is why it is so important to get a good rest on the plane, and to be well rested before boarding the plane. This will help you stay awake during the day.
Finally, ideally it would be a nice day with lots of sun, so definitely stay in the sun to keep you refreshed during the day as you try to stay awake.