Eat. Work. Sleep. Wake.
Or, in the case of an amazing vacation—Eat. Play. Eat. Play. Sleep. Wake.
We pack a lot into the rhythm of a 24-hour day, but that natural rhythm can be disrupted when we cross over different time zones. The more time zones crossed, the more potential for jet lag.
The good news is that you can do several things to keep jet lag to a minimum and MAXIMIZE your vacation time and SMOOTH your transition back into your schedule at home.
Before the flight, keep in mind…
Flying east to west is typically easier than flying west to east. That’s because heading west gives you extra hours to catch up on sleep in the new time zone. When you travel east, you “lose” time. Traveling east? Go to bed and wake up an hour or two earlier in the days before traveling. Heading west? Go to bed and wake up an hour or two later.
Stick to a normal exercise and sleep routine. With all the packing, last-minute shopping, and wrapping up work projects, it’s easy to let regular exercise slide and to cut back on your sleep. Truth is, exercise and plenty of rest head off jet lag and will help you maximize your vacation so you won’t waste time playing catch-up the first few days. And, it will help you be more productive and alert when you arrive back home.
If you’re going on a long trip, try to book tickets so you arrive at your destination in the evening. It’ll be easy to get some sleep and slip into the natural day-night rhythm at your destination. If you opt for a daytime arrival, plan several activities for the first day, so you’re busy until evening and not as tempted to take a nap.
During the flight
Drink lots of WATER. Several years ago on a trip to Brazil, I asked the flight attendant what her secret was to traveling back and forth between multiple time zones in just a few days’ time. “Stay hydrated,” she said. Since then I’ve taken her advice and had positive results.
Cabin air is extraordinarily dry, and you lose moisture every time you exhale. Drinking helps to replenish moisture lost. The key, though, is to drink water. Not juice or soda. Caffeinated drinks contain stimulants. Drinking alcohol can actually make jet lag worse.
Pull out the No-Jet-Lag.® This is my latest discovery thanks to Richard Payne, pastor and worldwide traveler. This homeopathic remedy works wonders! Take one tablet when your flight leaves and every two hours until you reach your destination. Then take a final tablet when you land.
Fast for a few hours and follow with a high-protein breakfast. When you eat plays a huge part in “setting” your circadian rhythm. Fast for several hours before you land at your destination. Then eat a high-protein breakfast based on the time breakfast would be served at your destination. According to Dave Baurac of the Argonne National Laboratory, “The fast depletes your body’s energy stores, so when you eat protein the next morning, you get an extra kick and help your body produce waking-up chemicals.”
During and after the flight
Fake it until you make it. Change the time on your watch, phone and other devices to reflect the time at your destination. Then act accordingly. Try your best to sleep if it’s nighttime at your destination. Stay awake if it’s daytime at your destination. Adjust your meal times, sleep, and activities to reflect the new time zone.
Do you have any tips for keeping jet lag to a minimum?
(2015). Cleveland Clinic Men’s Health Advisor, 17(4), 8.
Richards, S. (2013). Food Can Make You Feel Better. Health, 27(5), 112.
(2006). Harvard Men’s Health Watch, 10(9), 1-4.
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