It had sounded like a good idea. I’d watch some movies, read my book and talk with my friend on the overnight flight to Munich. What I should have done, however, was get some sleep, realizing I was about to land with a seven-hour time difference.
When my friend and I arrived in Munich, I could barely function from lack of sleep. It was, after all, the middle of the night at home.
We went for a walk, hoping to wake up. We eventually found a park bench to sit on. You can guess what happened next. A “few minutes rest” turned into an hour of wasted time asleep on a park bench. Jet lag had gotten the best of us.
Jet Lag Meaning
Jet lag is a temporary sleep problem that can affect those who travel across multiple time zones. While it may not reduce you to sleeping in strange parks, jet lag can make it difficult to enjoy the first days of your journey, and disrupt your sleep schedule for days.
Fortunately, jet lag doesn’t have to affect your vacation. Here are a few simple ways to help you deal with jet lag while traveling.
How Does Jet Lag Affect You?
The Mayo Clinic defines jet lag as a temporary sleep problem that can affect anyone who travels quickly between multiple time zones. Symptoms can include severe fatigue, sleep problems, stomach problems and mood changes. For me, jet lag made me dizzy, nauseous and miserable.
How to Deal with Jet Lag
Traveling across time zones disrupts your internal clock, which regulates your body’s sleep cycle and even hunger and bowel patterns. Sunlight is the biggest influence on your internal clock, since light affects the regulation of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. That’s why some travelers find that taking a melatonin supplement can help readjust the body’s internal clock when traveling.
If you arrive in the morning or afternoon at your destination, taking a quick walk in the sunshine could help you adjust to the new time zone. It may help you feel more wakeful and help readjust your internal clock and melatonin regulation.
Before You Take Off
As soon as you get on the plane, set your watch to the time zone at your destination. This will help you mentally transition to the new time zone. Also, be sure to get a good night’s rest before your trip begins.
During the Flight for Jet Lag
If the flight is during the night at your destination, try to get some sleep. Flight crew activity will often match the time zone at your destination. If it’s already night at your destination, they will serve the meal and drinks and then turn off the cabin lights until right before you land.
As for me, I’ll watch one movie during the meal service, and then put on eye shades and ear plugs to shut out the noise and light. I have two small travel pillows that I stack up against the window to lean on. Sometimes I’ll take an antihistamine like Benadryl, which makes me sleepy, or listen to soothing music, which puts me to sleep.
Dehydration can also contribute to the effects of jet lag, so drink plenty of water during the journey. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as these can affect your sleep and cause dehydration. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes and be sure to get up to stretch during the flight.
Jet Lag Treatment
A while back, a colleague introduced me to a product called No Jet Lag. Its natural ingredients include Chamomilla, Arnica and Bellis Perennis, which is extracted from the common daisy. The product does not contain any caffeine or sleep medications, but it’s effective in countering the effects of jet lag.
Ever since I’ve started taking No Jet Lag during travel, adjusting to different time zones has been easier. You simply take one tablet when you take off, one every two hours during the flight, and then one more upon landing. Since its homeopathic, No Jet Lag can be taken with other medications or by travelers of all ages.
Perhaps the most important ingredient to overcoming jet lag is your mindset. “I travel every week,” says Angela Berardino, a PR executive from Denver. “Sometimes, it’s a big time zone change; other times it’s small. But the moment I hit the ground, I use the time on my phone. I don’t do mental calculations to figure out what time it is back home. I trick my mind into being fully present.”
And that may be the single biggest reason to combat jet lag. Time in a destination is so precious you want to experience it to the fullest. Make the most of your journey.