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How to Avoid Jet Lag

Jet lag can put a damper on your travel adventures, leaving you feeling groggy, disoriented, and generally unwell.  We don't personally have a jet lag plan, rules, apps we use or tricks.  We pretty much do what our body tells us and follow some of the recommendations below in order to minimize its effects and make the most of our time in a new destination. Lets explore what causes jet lag and how to avoid it during your next trip. 

 

Understanding Jet Lag 

Jet lag occurs when your body's internal clock, also known as your circadian rhythm, is disrupted by traveling across multiple time zones.  Your body takes time to adjust to the new time zone, leading to a misalignment between your internal clock and the local time at your destination. Common symptoms of jet lag include fatigue, insomnia, irritability, and digestive issues. 

 

How Long Does it Take for Jet Lag to Wear Off? 

How long jet lag lasts depends on where you are traveling and how sensitive your body is to time changes. 

 

Preparing for Your Trip 

1.  Gradually Adjust Your Schedule:  A few days before your departure, start adjusting your daily routine to match the time zone of your destination.  This can help your body slowly adapt to the upcoming change in schedule. 

 

2.  Stay Hydrated:  Begin hydrating well before your flight and continue drinking water throughout your journey. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as they can dehydrate you and worsen jet lag symptoms. 

 

3.  Get Plenty of Sleep:  Ensure you're well-rested before your flight. A tired body is more susceptible to the effects of jet lag.

During the Flight 

1.  Choose the Right Flight Time:  Whenever possible, select flights that arrive at your destination during the evening or night. This makes it easier to adjust to the local time and go to sleep. 

 

2.  Stay Active:  Move around the cabin, stretch your legs, and do some in-seat exercises to improve blood circulation. This can help prevent stiffness and discomfort. 

 

3.  Adjust Your Watch:  As soon as you board the plane, set your watch or devices to the local time at your destination. This helps mentally prepare you for the new time zone. 

Upon Arrival 

1.  Expose Yourself to Natural Light:  Natural light is a powerful regulator of your circadian rhythm. Spend time outdoors during daylight hours to help your body sync with the local time. 

 

2.  Avoid Napping:  Although it can be tempting to take a nap upon arrival, resist the urge. Push through the day until the local bedtime to help your body adjust more quickly. 

3.  Stay Active:  Light exercise or a brisk walk can help combat fatigue and improve your mood. It’s also a great way to explore your new surroundings. 

Diet and Nutrition 

1.  Eat Light and Healthy:  Opt for light, balanced meals when you arrive. Avoid heavy or rich foods, especially close to bedtime, as they can disrupt your sleep. 

 

2.  Limit Caffeine and Alcohol:  While caffeine can help you stay awake during the day, it's best to avoid it in the hours leading up to bedtime. Alcohol can disrupt your sleep patterns, so use it in moderation. 

 

Sleep Aids 

Consider Melatonin:  Melatonin supplements may help regulate your sleep-wake cycle in a new time zone. Consult a healthcare professional before using them. 

Jet lag is an almost inevitable part of long-distance travel, but with careful planning and some simple strategies, you can minimize its impact on your trip. Remember that everyone's body reacts differently to time zone changes, so it may take a day or two to fully adjust.  Be patient with yourself and give your body the time it needs to adapt.  Safe travels! 

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