As we are getting ready to take a long flight later this month and started thinking about jet lag. We have traveled to Europe many times, but it has been a few years. Thus I decided to do some research and share ways to combat the effects of jet lag here on my travel blog. For those of you who haven’t flown on a long flight at 35, 000 feet, I want to share that jet lag is a temporary sleep problem that can affect anyone who quickly travels across multiple time zones.
Jet lag occurs because your body’s clock is still synced to your original time zone, instead of to the time zone where you’ve traveled. The more time zones crossed, the more likely you are to experience jet lag. The condition of jet lag may last several days before the traveler is fully adjusted to the new time zone; a recovery period of one day per time zone crossed is a suggested guideline.
- Disturbed sleep — such as insomnia, early waking, or excessive sleepiness.
- Daytime fatigue.
- Difficulty concentrating or functioning at your usual level.
- Stomach problems, constipation, or diarrhea.
- A general feeling of not being well.
- Mood changes.
Watch what you eat and drink: Don’t fall into the, “I’m on vacation, I can eat or drink anything” trap, especially on the plane. Don’t overeat, keep alcohol consumption to a minimum and the same for coffee.
Drink plenty of water: Plane rides can be dehydrating and this can worsen jet lag. Drink up.
Try to sleep: Put on those headphones or earplugs you packed and try to fall asleep on the plane especially if you’ll arrive in the morning (and this is often when U.S. flights to Europe arrive).
Try to exercise: Obviously you can’t go jogging or do yoga moves. It means just a simple stroll down the aisle every now and then being courteous to not disturb meal or beverage service.
Adapt to your new schedule while in flight: Change your watch when you get on the plane. Even though many experts say this is mostly psychological, it can help you get into the mindset of what you’ll be doing in the place where you’re going.
Once you arrive at your destination, here are a few things you can also do to help some of the potential side effects of jet lag.
Take a hot bath before bedtime: A bath can ease sore muscles from travel and help you relax and wind down. The drop in your body temperature when you get out of a bath may also make you sleepy.
Get some sun: According to the Sleep Foundation, daylight is “a powerful stimulant for regulating the biological clock.” Staying indoors, they add, will only worsen jet lag.
Synch up with local time: If you arrive at your destination at 9 a.m., don’t go to bed. Get into the rhythms of the city and stick with it. Walk around the city, stop for coffee, go for a hike and stay up at least until 9 p.m. local time. If you must nap, lie down for no more than 20 minutes or so, otherwise, you may have trouble sleeping at night.
Again, the good news about jet lag is that it will vanish after a few days. I will never forget our first trip to Europe. We went to Paris and had a great time. I don’t remember having too much of a hard time while we were out there, but it hit me hard the second day we were back here in the US. I was extremely tired and had a bad headache. As promised, a day or so later I was back to myself with wonderful memories of our vacation. Hope some of these suggestions help you get over any jet lag, so you can have a great vacation too.
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