Jet Lag Prevention while in Transit
Preparing and coping with jet lag is really important since you can literally be on the other side of the world from the US in less than 24 hours, with your body playing catch-up in the process. Starting out a trip falling asleep and feeling “out of it” is not fun for anyone. So what follows are a few tips to consider during your flight and after arriving at your destination.
I am a big believer in trying to get into the new time zone as soon as possible, which means I change my watch to the local time when I board the plane and try to eat and drink accordingly from that time forward. Many times when traveling internationally the flight is overnight and you arrive early the next day at your destination. Try to sleep on the flight, even if it is just a couple of hours, to get a head start in the new time zone. I usually try to have a glass of wine with the flight dinner to relax me. Darren prefers supplemental Melatonin to assist with the hormone already naturally produced by the body. I don’t advocate anything stronger than that as it just seems to make you groggier.
Jet Lag Recovery in your new Destination
Once you have landed and it is a new day, do everything you can to stay awake until evening. I have seen people ‘sneak naps’ and then not be able to sleep that night. Then the process of adjusting to the new time zone seems to take longer. I have traveled with others who get stuck in this rut and are still out of sync a week later.
The best way to stay awake is to stay active. Some light sightseeing the first day can help, as can a long stroll outside in the sun. Eating small meals every few hours can also do the trick and keep you going until nighttime. Drinking liquids is a must, although watch having too much caffeine late in the day.
Even with sleeping on the plane and staying awake the first day, that initial night in the new time zone may be a challenge. Most likely you will be exhausted and fall right asleep, only to wake up a few hours later staring at the ceiling and being wide awake. In this case I try to stay in bed and at least doze and ‘rest’ that way. For Darren, counting backwards from 100 works for him when he is trying to go to sleep. By relaxing and not getting uptight about lying awake, I feel at least that I am still resting and can then make it through the next day without the need for a nap.
If you can make it through the second day, that night should be much more restful and then you will be on your way to adjusting to your new vacation time zone and being alert to the fullest!