Jet Lag Remedies
What is Jet Lag?
If you have ever traveled across several time zones you will know exactly how jet lag feels. I travel on transatlantic flights regularly,often with my children - so I have explored many ways to reduce the effects of jet lag.
So just what are the symptoms? As your body adjusts to the different time zone you can experience exhaustion,headache,dizziness,disorientation,digestive problems,anxiety and lack of coordination. Flying with children also makes it worse as you are dealing with them waking at 3 am - just the time when you are getting to sleep!
Traveling west to east is more disruptive and produces the worst effects. For each hour difference in time zone it takes about a day get over the symptoms. So for the flight from California to The United Kingdom this means 8 days for example. Or Florida to The United Kingdom would mean a 5 day time period to recover from jet lag.
So over the years I have tried and tested many suggestions of how to reduce the symptoms of jet lag. Here are some jet lag remedies which have worked for me.
Be Prepared Before You Fly
Get Plenty of Sleep
I used to think that if I arrived at the airport tired then I would be more likely to sleep on the airplane. A number of times of trying this and I realized that this just doesn't work! If you start your journey tired already you seem to be even less likely to be able to sleep on the plane.
Try and organize your time for a few days before your trip so that you can start your journey well rested.
There have been a studies on whether eating a diet which is rich in carbohydrates before a flight will reduce the symptoms of jet lag. The studies were inconclusive. The general advice seems to be to eat small healthy meals before the flight. Of course it makes sense that the healthier you are the more able your body will be able to adjust.
During the Flight
Change You Watch
Adjust your watch to the time of the destination as soon as you get on the plane. You need to try and adjust to the new time zone as soon as you can and adjusting your watch really does help with this. Resist the temptation to keep thinking what the time is 'back home'.
Get Comfortable and Get Some Sleep
With not much leg room and the cramped space in economy seats this is often easier said than done - but there are things which you can do to make yourself more comfortable which in turn will make it much easier for you to sleep.
Bring a comfortable pair of socks with you so that you can remove your shoes after take off. Wear loose and comfortable clothing. Layers work best as the temperature on the airplane can vary a lot.
Have a good travel pillow and blanket with you. It is best to take your own. Not only because they are more comfortable but also if you have your own travel comfort items you know that they are clean.
Move Around the Cabin
Get up and move around the cabin as frequently as you can. You can even stretch whilst you are in your seat. Many airlines now have articles in the inflight magazine or on the entertainment system suggesting exercises for you.
One thing is certain. You will easily become dehydrated when you fly - and this only leads to more intense jet lag symptoms. Drink plenty of water. If the airline stewards are not bringing it to you then get up and ask them for some. This will get you moving around the plane too.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol. This really does make a lot of difference to how you will feel when you exit the plane. I know it is tempting but try to resist!
A good travel pillow really will make you more comfortable in your seat. There are various styles available and all of these 3 are highly rated by consumers.
The Bucky Utopia cushion is compact and easy to carry. The 1st Class sleep is easily inflatable and excellent for making that economy seat more comfortable.
Having your own travel blanket is a great idea on a long flight. One idea is to take a pashmina with you. Great for keeping warm on the flight and you will look pretty stylish too.
I prefer not to use the blankets the airlines provide as you can never be sure they are clean and they always seem to be made of cheap uncomfortable material.
Jet Lag With Children and Toddlers
For those of us traveling with children jet lag is even more of a challenge. Not only are you having to try and reduce your own symptoms but you are trying to give them as much help as possible as well.
The same tips apply to children as to adults. Get them on the time zone schedule as soon as you can. Make sure they drink plenty of water and move around the cabin. Having their own travel pillow and blanket also helps. For one thing I have often found myself on a long flight unable to move because I have a child asleep on my knee! So try and avoid this by having a travel pillow which will keep them in their own space and comfortable.
Noise Canceling Headphones
The one thing which I have personally found makes a huge difference in reducing the symptoms of jet lag is noise reducing headphones. You simply don't realize just how noisy a plane is until you try some of these headphones - and most of the noise goes away. This in turn reduces stress and allows you to go to sleep a lot more easily. I could never fall asleep on a plane until I discovered these. There is no need to go for the expensive models. Although I have a pair of Bose I also have one of the Senheiser ones which are available for around $30.
Jet Lag Remedies When You Arrive
As soon as you arrive at your destination you need to start functioning on the schedule of your new time zone. No matter how great the temptation do not go to sleep when you arrive if it is not a time when you would sleep at home. My personal tactic is always to try and stay awake until at least 9.30 pm in my new time zone.
If you absolutely can't resist a nap then try and make it 45 minutes or less. Your body will be rested but not go into the deep sleep mode from which it is really difficult to wake up.
It is important to try and eat on the new time zone schedule too. This helps you body adjust much more quickly.
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