If you are a frequent flyer, you have no doubt dealt with Jet Lag and the effects it can have on your body, especially if you frequently travel through multiple time zones. The more time zones you travel through, the longer you have to deal with the effects of jet lag. One of the main reasons why people who fly experience jet lag is due to the effect it has on our natural circadian rhythm.
More than likely, you have your body on some type of schedule. You wake up around the same time and you fall asleep about the same time every day. This is what your body knows to be normal and it does not like to vary from the schedule. This is also why people who work swing shifts have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
If you already suffer from sleep issues such as insomnia, jet lag can make those symptoms worse and it will take longer for you to be able to get your body back on a normal sleep routine.
Symptoms Of Jet Lag
Jet lag symptoms are quite simple: you feel more tired and you may sleep for longer at a time than you normally would. This is just your body trying to put itself back into a normal sleep pattern. On the opposite side, jet lag could also cause you to have insomnia. You may find yourself having a hard time falling asleep or a hard time staying asleep. It all goes back to your body trying to get back to a normal routine and adjust itself to the time zone that you are currently in.
This is especially true if you traveled out of your country and plan to stay in a different time zone for a long period of time. You may notice that you sleep for longer hours or your waking and sleeping hours do not match up with the time zone you are in. It will take a few days to a week for your body to fully adjust to your new time zone. If you are flying across the country or the ocean to another country for a short period of time, you may not have as much of a problem because you were not in the other time zone for an extended period of time.
How To Prevent Jet Lag
There are some things that you can do to help prevent jet lag before it happens, and also to ease the effects of jet lag after you have reached your destination. There are many you can try, but we will just touch on some of them.
Simulate Your New Schedule
Before you head out on your flight, take some time to try and move your current schedule to your new schedule. Experts say to move your current schedule 30 minutes closer to your new schedule each day in the hopes that when you reach your destination, you won’t have to deal with jet lag.
If you are going to be on the plane for a long time, try getting your mind and body prepared for your new time zone. Experts say you should try to sleep on your flight if it is currently night time where you are going. If it is day time where you are headed, try staying awake during your flight. Experts say you cannot force your body to stay awake or sleep, but you should at least try. By doing this you will be able to hopefully transition easier into your new time zone.
This is mainly for people who are traveling for work and need to attend a meeting or conference. If you have a meeting you need to attend and you need to be in top shape for the meeting, try arriving a day or two in advance so your body can adjust to the new time zone. This will allow you to get some much needed rest and be able to attend the meeting with your best foot forward.
Though your medical doctor will always tell you that it is important to remain hydrated at all times, it is very important when you are traveling through time zones. Make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your flight. Try to avoid caffeine and alcohol as they can make the jet lag worse and could also impair your judgment or make you jittery.
Once your plane is in the air and the pilot has turned off the seat belt sign, get up and move around if you can. Even walking from one end of the plane to the other a few times during your flight can help with jet lag. However, if you are expecting to sleep once you arrive at your destination, you will want to steer clear of large amounts of exercise. Even if you get up only to use the restroom, take your time getting back to your seat. This will help to keep you awake.
Jet lag is an unpleasant experience that plaques many travelers each year. While there is no “cure” for jet lag as it is something that you cannot truly treat, there are things that you can do to help make sure that you keep your body in a normal sleep pattern. Trying to put your mind and body on the schedule that you will be following at your new destination can help you to push the effects of jet lag to the side.
If you have tried multiple things to help get you sleeping on a new schedule with little or no success, you may want to talk with your doctor about sleeping medications or over the counter medications that can help you to sleep. You will want to be careful with these medications and make sure to choose one that you will not become dependent on. It may be a better option for you to try to sleep on your own and not with a medication if you have a history of experiencing side effects with these medications.