“Welcome back to work!” – the sentence you’ll hear after your 2-week vacation to the other side of the world. Everything seems right and perfect – except that annoyance that comes with the long flight after your fulfilling vacation: a jet lag. It occurs when your sleep patterns are disturbed due to the abnormal sleeping time and positions, more likely whenever you travel across at least two time zones. The further you travel on the plane, the more likely you are to become sleepy and sluggish, and the more severe the symptoms.
However, the good news is that: preventing jet lag is much easier when we understand how the body works. Our bodies are programmed to do various things throughout the 24 hour period, such as eating and sleeping.
Those who travel a lot and travellers from overseas are more familiar with the symptoms of jet lag. Disturbed sleep, daytime fatigue, difficulty in concentrating and working, or even stomach problems are the symptoms they have to deal with.
Does this sound familiar? Well, you’re not alone. To avoid jet lag, you just have to focus on getting a good and long sleep for the first night after you landed. This will make your body clock reset to your new time zone and make the journey easier and more enjoyable. From booking a flight to going to bed at your hotel, think about how you can get a full night’s sleep and wake up feeling ready to invade the streets of your new town.
Here are more tips on how to get over jet lag like a pro.
Get a good night’s sleep before the flight
People usually sleep just a few hours before a long flight, whether it’s a deliberate attempt to tire yourself out so that you’ll sleep through the flight or for other reasons. In fact, it’s a wrong idea, since getting a good night’s sleep before your flight will leave you a better handle to deal with jet lag.
Drink plenty of water
The air you breathe inside airplanes is usually quite dry and can leave your whole body super dehydrated. So every once in a while, bring your own bottle of water on board and drink them consistently throughout the flight to keep hydrated.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine
The effects of alcohol and caffeine-heavy drinks like coffee, cola, and energy drinks at such altitude will increase jet lag recovery time, making it even harder to beat the jet lag afterwards. Drink moderately!
Avoid heavy food at lunch
Another thing to avoid is consuming heavy foods. If you have a large meal, especially at lunchtime, then it’s likely to throw your body clock further out of sync. Stick to the food you are served on the plane at the correct time of day, for your destination’s time zone.
Focus on sleep
Try to get as much sleep as you normally would in a 24-hour period. An eye-mask, earphones and travel pillow can really improve your comfort levels when trying to sleep on a long-haul flight. Pack some in your carry-on. Make sure you won’t be disturbed by choosing your seat wisely if possible, select a seat and surroundings that you’ll be comfortable with.
Choose the arrival time
If possible, avoid arriving at night and choose a flight which arrives in daylight. Getting as much daylight as you can will make it easier to stay awake and the sunshine definitely makes you feel better. Also it’s important to emphasize that when you arrive, don’t sleep until it’s bedtime!
Reset the time zone
As soon as you arrive at the departure gate, set your phone and/or your watch to the destination time zone, since it will help you to prepare and adjust your new body time zone. Try not to think about what time it is at home, it will only make your body confused and make you feel tired or hungry when you shouldn’t be.
Take it easy for the first few days
It’s best to relax, do some regular sightseeing or activities, and not take it too extreme in the beginning of your trip after a long flight. You might fall into bed at night feeling exhausted and broken, but a healthy mix of activity and relaxation is exactly what your body needs for the first few days in a new place.
Don’t skip exercise
Exercise is one of the best ways to combat jet lag and the muscle fatigue associated with flying. You can also make yourself feel better and more relaxed while you’re in the air. Get yourself moving with a 30 or 45-minute workout at moderate intensity on the days prior to your flight. Even basic walking will do. Exercise helps your body tune its circadian rhythms as well as enhances your sleep cycle. You want to be feeling your best when you walk onto the plane and start your adventure!
Don’t shift your schedule for a short trip
If you’re only going away for a few days, think about whether it’s worth it to adjust your body clock to your destination’s time zone. By the time you’ve done so, it’ll be time to fly home, and then you’ll have to readjust your schedule all over again.
After a long haul flight back, try to have a full day to recover. This is never easy to get an extra day off after your 2-week vacation, but if you can put off a return to work for a day, trust me, you’ll be back to work with ten times energy!