How to Fight the Dreadful Jet Lag
Jet lag sucks. Instead of leaving the airport all excited for your trip, you feel exhausted and tired, and all you want is sleep. In the past year I have travelled back and forth countless times over many time zones, and after the first few times, I decided to do some research on jet lag and figure out how I can combat jet lag. With these tips, you can reduce the effects of jet lag so you can experience more on your trip.
First, what the heck is jet lag??
In short, your body has a clock/routine (called a circadian rhythm) controlled by a small group of cells (they turn off and on and tell parts of the body what time it is and what to do). This internal clock basically keeps us in tune with the pattern of day and night, so when you fly to a different time zone and are exposed to longer/shorter day-time your routine is thrown into disarray. There’s a lot of science behind it which you can read up on here.
When will my jet lag stop?
Good question! Jet lag not only affects different people, but the effects depend on age, stress, state of health, and more. However, some studies have shown that on average it takes about a full day to recover for each time zone crossed. As well, some claim that travelling west may result in less jet lag, as your body adapts easier to longer days than shorter ones (imagine going to bed super early…way harder than sleeping late!). Whether you’re flying east or west, one time-zone or five, these upcoming tips will help reduce your jet lag.
Tip 1: Drink lots of water.
This should be common knowledge, but apparently, men can lose around two litres of water during a 10-hour flight (4% of your body water), and women can lose around 1.6 litres! If you’re flying more than 4 hours, research has shown that you should drink about eight ounces (a cup-ish) of water for every hour that you’re flying. Your body functions best when it’s hydrated, so drinking plenty of water will help your body restore itself from the effects of jet lag quicker.
Tip 2: Plan ahead of schedule.
I find that for me, the most helpful thing you can do to reduce the amount of jet lag you experience is preparing for it by slowly sleeping earlier/later prior to your departure. For example, consider going to bed gradually earlier every day for a week. By then, your body will be adjusted closer to the timezone of your destination.
Tip 3: Consider a layover.
Instead of flying 12 hours straight, consider breaking it down into two six-hour flights. It will help reduce the amount of change your body will experience and make jet lag a more gentle process. You can stretch your legs, take a shower, walk around, and basically replenish yourself with energy. When I’m not in a rush, I like to find a layover destination where I can spend a couple of days.
Tip 4: Set your watch to the new time zone.
When I get on my plane, I immediately think of the time in the time zone of my destination. What I mean by this is instead of thinking, “oh it’s only 8 PM at home,” I think “oh it’s already 12 AM.” This helps me train my brain to believe that I have to sleep or wake up at the right time.
Tip 5: Refrain from coffee…if you’re flying east.
For similar reasons as tip # 1, drinking a double espresso when changing time zones is likely to help with jetlag if you’re flying west. This makes sense as you’ll be trying to stay up later when travelling west. If you’re travelling east, you’ll be needing to sleep earlier, and coffee usually won’t help.
Tip 6: Exercise!
Researchers say that you should exercise before the flight, during the flight, and for a few days afterwards. Before you fly, consider a high-intensity workout to burn off travel stress. When you’re in flight, walk around and do some stresses, squats, leg extensions…basically, any movement is good. It’ll help keep your blood flowing and help you feel a little less cramped and tight. Lastly, consider doing some routine cardio work for the next few days (walk around, do a hike, etc.). This helps rejuvenates your body with energy and getting it back into rhythm. Keep in mind this is from personal experience, so listen to your body and do what is best. You can read more here.
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Cover image taken by Florian van Duyn via. Unsplash.com.