In my last 13 years of flying, I’ve never had the privilege of experiencing what is Jet Lag. More so because of the able guidance from various frequent travelers, lot of discipline and pre-planning, I’ve always managed to avoid Jet Lag.
Let’s first understand why do we get Jet Lag?
Our body is programmed to perform certain functions at certain times of day and if we notice our schedules do not change much in a normal working week. Our sleeping pattern, working hours, exercise time and most importantly time of sun-rise and sun-set do not change drastically in a normal day/week. When we travel long distance and in short span of time, our body and mind gets confused. Body wants to sleep, Mind wants to remain awake or vice -versa. This also leads to some disorders like upset stomach, feeling of tiredness, fatigue and loss of appetite among others.
Which is better – Traveling East or Traveling West?
There is no such common thing that traveling in one particular direction helps avoid jet lag. It really depends on individual to individual, but generally speaking people usually take 24 hours to recover from Jet Lag, traveling in either direction.
Some Tested Tips:
The only way to avoid Jet-Lag is how you manage your sleep during your long journey crisscrossing different time-zones. Here’s a way to manage it effectively:
Before the Flight:
- If you have a strict schedule in your normal day-to-day life, you are most likely to suffer Jet Lag, so before any long travel, try and get some flexibility in your schedule.
- You should also try and change your sleeping pattern at least 1 day before your scheduled departure. If you are planning to sleep a lot during the journey, make sure you are sleep deprived at least 1 day before your departure so that you can sleep in the plane. And if you are planning to stay awake most of your journey, you should board the flight well rested!
On the Flight:
- Seating on the flight plays an important role to avoid Jet-Lag. If you have to sleep in the flight, try taking window seat and if don’t then an aisle/middle seat.
- Carry eye-shades, ear-plugs and a neck pillow, which will ensure you are not disturbed when you are sleeping. Noise canceling head phones are boon for travelers.
- Ask for “Do Not Disturb” tag from crew if you are planning to sleep.
- Carry your favorite set of movies, reading material, fully charged laptop (though most of the aircrafts are now equipped with power plugs) if you are planning to stay awake.
- To manage time within the flight, change the time in your watch to the time of arrival city and start following it. So if its night time in arrival city when you board the plane, you should be sleeping in the flight and if it’s a day time there, you should be awake.
- Manage your sleep in the flight basis on the arrival time of your city. If you are arriving in the city in morning/afternoon, you practically have remaining day in your arrival city to stay awake and then sleep in the night. So, when traveling, before arriving to your final destination, you should spend last 5-6 hours of your flight sleeping or forced sleeping.
- Drink lot of water if you are planning NOT to sleep during your flight and vice-versa.
- Avoid Alcohol and caffeinated drinks during your journey as they can cause Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), a disease where blood clots are formed within the deep veins of the legs. It is caused due to prolonged leg immobility and alcohol and caffeinated drinks aid the formation. To avoid that, it is recommended to drink lot of water and fruit juices along with regular basic stretching of legs, shoulders, neck and arms.
- If you want to stay awake in the flight and finding it tough, take some energy drinks like Red Bull, they will help you stay awake.
After you arrive:
- My favorite is “Shave Shower = Full Power”. If I’ve to stay awake forcefully on my arrival, a quick shower really helps.
- Exercise before going for dinner and bed, followed by nice shower will ensure you are adequately tired and will help you to get into sleep.
- Try to stay awake until it’s local bedtime and force yourself to it.
I’ve seen many friends using sleeping pills to sleep during their journey, trust me this only add fuel to Jet Lag as you will feel fuzzy when you land and are not properly adjusted to the new time zone. I think you can avoid all this through natural process as mentioned above. I’ve been following these in all my journeys and never had to face trouble, so all of these are certainly tested 🙂
For most of you these tips might not be new but sharing here with wider audience which might benefit some fellow travelers. If you have some more tips to share, please do post them in comments below.