Traveling definitely has it’s downsides… the lost bags, the dreaded middle seat, the jet lag… Jet lag can ruin a short vacation if you’re not careful making you groggy, irritable, sleepy, and generally not the ball of sunshine I’m sure you normally are!It definitely wipes me out. You may not be able to control all of the problems you encounter during your journey but what if you could beat jet lag? Here are some tips to minimize that sleepy, fuzzy, hungover-like feeling so you can start enjoying your trip sooner!
Tip #1 - Hydrate!
Flying greatly dehydrates you. The average indoor humidity level is usually about 45% but inside a plane cabin it’s 15%. The low humidity along with increased breathing due to high altitudes sucks any moisture right out of the air. You’re left with a very dry environment and an increased possibility of dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration include lightheadedness, nausea, muscles cramps and sleepiness. These side effects combined with a thrown-off internal clock can make for a rough trip. In flight alcohol drinking heightens these symptoms so save your cocktails for after you land. Eight ounces of water for every hour you’re in the air is recommended. Also avoid all sugary beverages, and sugar in general, which will just spike your blood sugar level causing you to feel even groggier later.
Tip #2 – Don’t hibernate.
Your body responds to natural sunlight. The more time you spend outside basking in the sun the easier it will be for you to adjust to the new time zone. Also make sure to eat all meals at the local time starting immediately upon arrival. Set your watch when you’re on the plane to the local time as well. The faster you trick your mind and body to adjust, the happier you’ll be.
Tip #3 – Stay awake once you arrive in your destination.
One of the best ways to trump jet lag is to just stay awake. Sometimes that’s easier said than done so make sure you have interesting ways to stay productive once you arrive at your destination. Avoid strenuous activities but explore the local village, visit a museum, or take a walk on the beach to keep your mind engaged and your body moving. Try not to go to bed until it’s really the local bedtime. Avoid naps if possible as they’re terribly difficult to wake up from and will further interfere with your body adjusting to your new time zone.
You’ll be tempted to turn to caffeine to get you through your sluggish moments. While caffeine may provide you with a jolt of stimulation, it will make it harder for you to sleep deeply when it’s really time for bed. You’ll need quality sleep to fight the jet lag so don’t let caffeine get the best of you. Caffeine also dehydrates your body which will only add to your jet lag woes. You should keep caffeine to a minimum during the days leading up to and during your trip.
Tip #5 – Don’t take sleeping pills.
Reaching for sleeping pills to help with jet lag may cause more trouble than they’re worth. If you aren’t already taking sleeping pills, do not turn to them for the first time during a flight as you don’t know how your body will react. Even if you are accustom to taking them, they still may not be your best bet. After waking up from a pill induced sleep you often feel very groggy which is not the right way to kick off a trip in a different time zone. If you’re worried about not being able to sleep on your flight, bring something to use as a pillow, an eye-mask, and ear plugs. If you follow the other tips in this article, you should be sleeping soundly in your destination country in no time.
Tip #6 – All Natural Jet Lag Remedies
No-Jet-Lag: No-Jet-Lag is a homeopathic remedy (vegan and not tested on animals) that has been known to be very helpful in preventing jet lag. It’s even used by major athletes to help them perform at their optimum physical levels upon arrival to their destinations. It has no reported side effects due to it’s low doses of these all natural ingredients: Leopard’s Bane, Daisy, Wild Chamomile, Ipecac and Clubmoss. It’s recommended that you chew one tablet each time your plane takes off and each time it lands, even if you are not disembarking, to counter the effects of pressure changes. Also take one every two hours while flying to counter the effects of long flights. It is best taken separately from meals. To find stores that carry this product or to order online, click here.
Melatonin: Melatonin is a common jet lag cure but it should only be used in very small doses (0.5 mg) and for a very short amount of time (just 2 or 3 nights). Melatonin is a chemical produced by your brain at night to make you sleepy. Your brain’s production of melatonin gets thrown out of wack when you travel. Taking sparing doses before bedtime after you arrive at your destination can help your body adjust. If you take larger doses or take it for an extended period of time you may suffer from side effects such as vivid dreams and nightmares. Melatonin can be found at most health stores.
Tip #7 – Going ninja on jet lag…
The final tip, for the hard core traveling pros, is to start combating jet lag several days before you leave for your trip by slowly adjusting your sleeping and eating times to match the schedule of your destination country. This may not be feasible due to your work or family schedule but if you can do it, even just to a minor extent, it will give your body’s internal clock a kickstart.
Beating jet lag is not easy but you can do it! By following the above tips, you’ll be energized and ready to start exploring your new locale in no time.Happy traveling!
Note: As you know, I’m no doctor! But I am a lawyer, so here’s my little disclaimer: Always consult a physician before taking any medication!
Contributor: Gina Guariglia-Kelly