How to Beat Jet Lag When You Travel
There’s no greater dampener to the excitement of arriving at a new destination than jet lag that knocks you out or makes you feel sick for the first few days. Jet lag usually occurs when people travel across time zones as they are caused when the body’s circadian rhythm (natural twenty-four-hour cycle) is thrown off balance.
Symptoms of jet lag include disturbed sleep patterns, feelings of disorientation or anxiety, indigestion, nausea, constipation, headaches and sweating. Treating the symptoms once they occur might require medication and a visit to the doctor – not the ideal item on a holiday itinerary. Instead, by taking certain precautionary measures before, during and immediately after your flight, it’s possible to minimize the effects of jet lag.
Risk factors of jet lag include lack of sleep, dehydration, consumption of alcohol during the flight and stress. By being aware of these factors and consciously taking steps to beat them, you can keep jet lag at bay as much as possible. However, jet lag can get more severe as a person gets older. It also occurs with greater severity when traveling east, as you lose a few hours of the day (It’s easier to stay awake when hours get added than to force yourself to sleep when hours are lost).
There are some tried and tested measures that help to beat jet lag. While the results aren’t guaranteed one hundred per cent, following them will certainly help to reduce the symptoms.
Lack of sleep is one of the prime risk factors of jet lag. Since the body is used to a particular sleep cycle, it will require some planning to break the routine. You should adjust your sleep pattern a few days before you travel. Although this might be difficult when you are at work all day, try to sleep an hour or two earlier than usual, and wake up ahead of the regular time to give your body sufficient time to get used to the new time zone.
During your flight, adjust your watch to the new time zone and take short naps rather than indulging in long bouts of sleeping.
Food and Drink
Dehydration during the flight can cause jet lag. Avoid heavy meals or junk food, and instead eat light meals at regular intervals. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water or fruit juice. Avoid alcohol and drinks such as cola or coffee that have caffeine as they dehydrate the body.
When you arrive at your destination, start each day with a high protein breakfast so that your body has ample nutrition to battle fatigue. Eat light meals for the rest of the day to reduce tiredness and to stay alert.
Improving blood circulation by exercising keeps the body and mind alert. During your flight take short walks every couple of hours. This will also to reduce the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). Frequently stretch your arms and legs while seated. When you reach your destination, walk every day and do some stretches before you go to bed to improve sleep.
Stress can aggravate jet lag symptoms. Organize everything well in advance of your flight, so there is no panic at the last minute. On the flight, do some breathing exercises to relax and rid your mind of worries.
Factors such as age and other health conditions can increase stress and tiredness during travel. If necessary, consult your physician before you travel and get him to prescribe medication that will help to combat jet lag.
If you continue to experience jet lag symptoms despite taking these measures, get your hotel to schedule an appointment with a doctor, so that you can get back on your feet as quickly as possible to enjoy the rest of your holiday.