Whenever you fly a long distance and cross many time zones, your body clock gets completely disturbed. You’ll find yourself terribly sleepy during the day and wide awake at night. This is known as jet lag and is something that frequent fliers have to deal with on a regular basis. It can be very annoying and lead to emotional mood swings and frustration during your trip. After a few days your body clocks sets to the new time zone and things get easier but by then it’s time to get on the flight back home. If you are about to travel on a long flight soon then you need to keep the following tips in mind to help you cope with jet lag. Here are the top 10 jet lag cures that work well every time.
A few days before you have to catch that long flight, start preparing your body for the new time zone. If you are travelling east and you’ll lose time then start sleeping half an earlier each day to get used to sleeping at the time of your destination. Wake up a little earlier each day. If you are travelling west then sleep later and wake up a little later.
Just like your sleep cycle your food cycle also needs to get used to the new time zone you are about to visit. So shift your meal times according to where you are going to travel. Do the shifting in small half an hour steps and do it at least for 3 or 4 days before the travel date.
As soon as you board the plane you should set your watch to the time zone of your destination. This is a psychological factor that will help you think in terms of the time zone that you are about to visit. During the flight, try to do things such as eating and sleeping, according to this new time zone.
Plane food is rubbish anyways but there is another reason to not eat it. By staying hungry during the flight you fool your body into giving up the light based body clock and shift to hunger based body clock. If you must you can snack a little on the flight and then eat a good meal just after you land. This will set your body clock to the new time zone much faster than letting it set on its own according to sunlight.
Travelling 35,000 feet above the earth’s surface causes dehydration and very few people drink enough water during a flight to stay hydrated. While dehydration doesn’t lead directly to jet lag, it does make the jet lag much worse. So remember to drink lots of water during your flight. Also drink lots of water before your flight and after your flight.
Both alcohol and coffee can dehydrate you even more so it’s best to avoid these and instead go for water or fruit juice. Soda too contains caffeine so avoid that too. Another reason to avoid alcohol is that it’s easy to get tipsy at high altitude and when you get back on land you’ll end up with a hangover along with your jet lag.
Melatonin is the hormone that is related to sleep. It is produced naturally in the body when we are about to fall asleep. Some studies have suggested that taking melatonin in the form of pills can help people sleep. If your jet lag is severe try taking these pills about 2 hours before you want to sleep. The effects of melatonin are not conclusive so consult your doctor before taking it.
When you arrive at your destination you might find it hard to stay awake even though it is mid day. Avoid sleeping at that time as it will make the jet lag last much longer. If you must, take a short nap no longer than 30 minutes. If you arrive at night and can’t fall asleep don’t force it but stay in bed and rest and wake up at the right time in the morning and then avoid sleeping during the day.
Light therapy involves using sunlight or light boxes to trigger your body clock. If you have lost time then get early morning light to wake you up and avoid late afternoon light as it will help you sleep early. If you have travelled west instead then avoid early morning light and take in afternoon light when you are feeling sleepy.
Exercising is a good way to tire your body and get it ready for sleep. But don’t exercise within 3 hours of sleeping as that will lead to an overactive body and it will be hard to fall asleep. Exercising early in the morning will energize you for the day ahead and help you stay awake.