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Expat Ninja: How to Overcome Jet Lag Like a Pro

Updated on June 18, 2012

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Playing Jumprope with Time Zones: A Time-Honored International Sport

I swear, it'll be in the Olympics one day. And you guys, my dear readers, will totally have the jump on all those other suckers out there.

So. First things first: what is jetlag?

All yogi masters make you start at the beginning, to make sure you really really understand. So yes, the basics: "jetlag" refers to the curious sensation of disagreement between your internal "clock" and the local external time, and is generally associated with the rise of wikkid speedy jet travel, which allows us to move around the globe at an unnatural, if reasonably convenient, clip. Unfortunately, it can also be caused by an awkward schedule (graveyard shifts at Dunkin' Donuts, anyone?) and has been known to crop up towards the end of exam periods. Here, however, we'll be dealing explicitly with the eponymous cause: speedy jet air travel.

The way to a man's internal clock is through his stomach

It's true guys. Airlines know it: that's why they serve "meals" at whacked out times that magically correspond to "meal time" at your destination.

But of course, they just aren't taking the principle far enough to be actually useful. Which, I guess, is a solid business plan, seeing as people already complain about the food. Imagine if they were all complaining about its conspicuous absence?

Unfortunately for you Olympic hopefuls, though, that's just the way you're going to have to do it. Hands down, the very best way to reset your internal clock - no fuss, no muss - is to abstain from food, or whatever the airline claims is food, for the duration of your travel. The next time you eat, your body will automatically reset to "breakfast", and voila! Jetlag vanquished.

Although of course you'll still have general travel exhaustion to contend with, and possibly also the grumpy-munchies. Still working the kinks out of this one.

Gentler Approach: Some Basic Tips

  • Drink plenty of water. This is, of course, a good rule of thumb for always, but it's especially important when traveling (by plane) because the recirculated air in there is notoriously lacking in the moisture department. The ensuing dehydration will make you lightheaded, nauseous, sleepy and groggy. Plus, if you're worried about blood clots, drinking a huge amount of water will at the very least ensure that you're walking to and from the bathroom - keeping that circulation up!
  • Get as much natural sunlight as possible. Sunlight is amazing for resetting internal clocks. Have a picnic outside when you arrive, or go for a walk.
  • Don't nap, if possible. Assuming you're suffering from both jet lag and travel exhaustion, it's safe to say that that "nap" will end up being your actual deep nighttime sleep, and will be an absolute bitch to wake up from - ultimately leaving you groggy and unpleasant. Instead, take that walk I mentioned, or unpack - keep yourself busy until a reasonable bed time rolls around to relieve you of your terrible burden. But, um, don't drive. Or operate heavy machinery.
  • Set your watch/etc. to the local time at your destination the second you step on the plane. We all know how important mindset is here.

A Typical Jetlag-Inducing Flight

show route and directions
A markerIstanbul, Turkey -
Istanbul/Istanbul Province, Turkey
get directions

B markerBoston, Massachusetts -
Boston, MA, USA
get directions

And You're Well On Your Way to a Comfortable and Relaxing Flight

Just a couple more things:

Need something to read?

Or are you considering making this whole Frequent Flyer thing into a lifestyle choice? Here are some things to think about first.

Audience Participation!

How do you deal with jetlag?

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    • sandrabusby profile image

      Sandra Busby 5 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

      I'm taking a trip across the Atlantc soon, maybe I'll try the no food thing. Thanks for SHARING.

    • buckleupdorothy profile image
      Author

      buckleupdorothy 5 years ago from Istanbul, Turkey

      Have a great flight! And let us know how it works out for you =)

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