Those of us who travel across time zones have all experienced the dreaded jet lag. Properly known as jet lag disorder, this is a temporary sleep-interruption disorder that happens when people cross 2 or more time zones. Most people experience greater issues when travelling east or when crossing more time zones.
We are not at our best when dealing with jet lag. Symptoms include extreme tiredness, insomnia, anxiety, headache and irritability. The general brain fogginess that accompanies disrupted sleep can be dangerous. The amount of time it takes to recover from jet lag usually depends on the number of time zones one has crossed, but fear not! There are things you can do that increase your chances of avoiding jet lag altogether.
1. Arrive During Daylight
If at all possible, organize your travel to arrive at a destination during the daylight hours. The daylight will help your body adjust it's circadian rhythms to this new location. Once you arrive, STAY AWAKE, and fit your meals to local time. An early arrival encourages you to get out, check out the city and start exploring.
Pro Tip: Try to avoid having a nap. If you must sleep, try to limit it to no more than an hour. Your goal is for your body to adjust.
2. Do Something Physical, but not Demanding
It's unlikely that you'll be ready to leap straight into any really strenuous activity after a long journey but doing something that gets your body moving and doing the activities appropriate to the time of day makes a huge and positive difference. A fabulous first day activity in almost any destination is to get out for a walk in a local park.
Have a shower, brush your teeth, and change your clothes and go out for a walk as soon as possible after arriving. Do NOT load up on coffee, when jet-lagged a little caffeine can go a long way. Make all arrival day activities low key, near your lodgings, and requiring little commitment.
Outdoors is better than indoors.
3. Hydrate Drinking more water often seems to be the answer to fixing all our physical issues. Jet lag is no different. Travel is dehydrating and we need to consume extra fluids.
Reduce or avoid alcohol and caffeine during travel. Consider adding a dose of electrolytes to your water for a couple of days.
4. Travel Comfortably Prepared to Sleep
Simply put, if you can sleep do it. Instead of watching the airline's selection of movies and TV, get cozy and try to sleep. Sleeping upright in train or plane seats can be challenging but a blanket, pillow, and eye mask can make the world of difference. Wear non-confining soft clothes and footwear. Find a travel pillow you like, slip on the eye mask, cover yourself with a blanket and try to find a comfortable position for sleeping.
1. buckle your seatbelt OVER the blanket so the flight attendant doesn't need to wake you for a seatbelt check, and
2. it's easier to find a comfortable position in a window seat.
A bad case of jet lag can make days of your travel unpleasant and foggy. Dragging ourselves around while suffering from jet lag disorder reduces our joy in our travels. We want to enjoy everything a destination has to offer and we can't do that when our biggest goal is to take a nap. Unfortunately, there isn't one easy step to take to avoid jet lag but by combining several true and tested tips, we can reduce it to the point where it's just another minor inconvenience in an otherwise outstanding trip.
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