How to Overcome Jet Lag

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If you’ve ever been on a long plane journey and ended up in another part of the world (on another time zone), the chances are you’ve experienced jet lag; where you body struggles to come to terms with the changes and your ‘body clock’ is thrown off – resulting in tiredness and fatigue.

If you fly to the other side of the world, all of a sudden you’re asking your body to operate in a different way to what it’s used to, so naturally difficulties will occur. Luckily, there are a few strategies that you can employ to avoid and overcome jet lag, meaning and the amount of suffering on your part can be severely reduced.

1. Make sure you’re well-rested when you leave – It might seem like a good idea to stay up all night so that you can sleep on the plane journey, but sleeping on a plane is extremely difficult (no matter how tired you are), so you’ll probably get off the plane feeling even more tired than you were when you went on (not to mention the fact that you’ll be ten times more likely to pick up an illness if you’re run-down and on a plane full of people).

How to Avoid Jet LagInstead, the best way to avoid jet lag is to make sure you leave home well-rested and well-fed. The best way to do this is to plan ahead. Make sure you’re all packed a day or two in advance (at least) so that you’re not fretting last minute. You want your last night’s sleep at home to be a peaceful one, so make sure to take care of all your business before then.

2. On the way there, stay hydrated and take it easy – Spending a long time on a plane will naturally dehydrate you, and being dehydrated will negatively affect yours sleep, so in order to beat jet lag it’s important to drink plenty of fluids while you’re traveling. When on the plane, it’s better to ask for drinks (from the air hostess) without ice, you’ll get more drink in your cup (although sometimes if you ask for a can of drink they’ll just give you the can and a cup to pour yourself).

In addition to this, avoid drinking coffee (or any caffeinated drink) as well as alcohol as they won’t help your body to relax.

3. Don’t keep thinking about what time it is ‘back home’ – This is something that I always seem to do, and that encourages jet lag. When you arrive at a new place (and in a new time zone), the temptation is to keep looking at the current time and reminding yourself what time it is back home. Phrases like “It’s only 7pm back home! I shouldn’t be in bed this early!” won’t help you to bet jet lag and settle into a new time zone.

You want to slip into the new time zone as quickly and seamlessly as possible, so as soon as you get off the plane (or as soon as the pilot announces what the current time is) be sure to adjust your watch and change the time on your cell-phone to match.

4. No-matter what time you arrive, stay awake until local bedtime – Avoiding jet lag largely comes down to how well and how quickly you can adjust your new time zone.

It can be incredibly tempting to go straight to bed once you arrive in your new location (especially if you’re staying in a comfy hotel and you’ve had a tiring flight). Resist this urge at all costs! If you go to bed too early, you’ll wake up half-way through the night and you’ll be completely out of whack. This first night is the hardest, but if you can get through it you’re on your way to overcoming jet lag.

In order to keep yourself awake, go out for a walk, go to dinner, do some exercise or meet up with friends. Basically, keep as far away from your bed as possible!

For example, if you fly from London to New York, you’ll be ‘going back in time’ 5 hours (as New York is 5 hours behind). This means that on the day you arrive you’ll have to stay up 5 hours longer than you normally would so that you can go to bed when everyone else does.

5. If necessary, look into using Jet Lag cures – Using pharmaceutical jet lag cures should never be your first port of call, but there are occasions when certain sleeping aids can be useful.

Zolpidem (sometimes known by the brand name ‘Ambien’) is the most popular sleeping aid on the market, and will certainly help you to overcome jet lag as it has a rather powerful effect (so don’t take more than the recommended dose!)

A whole tablet will knock you out for 7-8 hours; whereas half a tablet will help you sleep for around 3-4 hours (so adjust your dose accordingly).

It is best to see if you can sleep naturally – without the need of such tablets, so a good idea is to attempt to go to sleep naturally but to have a tablet on your bedside table just in case you need it (or in case you suddenly wake up in the middle of the night and find yourself wide awake).

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