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Jet Lag Symptom, How to Avoid It & Natural Cure and Remedy

Updated on February 15, 2016
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As an engineer, Mazlan had the opportunity to travel and work abroad. He has traveled to over 30 countries.

Flying west to east makes the jet lag problem even more pronounced
Flying west to east makes the jet lag problem even more pronounced | Source

What is Jet Lag?

A simple definition of Jet Lag is the disruption of our body clock, which causes difficulty to fall asleep or waking up when we fly on long haul flights and crosses several time zones.

This is because our body finds it difficult to adjust to the new time zone of our destination. Back home it could be lunchtime and at the new destination, it is bedtime!

Flying West to East

The more time zones we cross the more severe our jet lag problem could be. It is more severe when we fly eastward, as we are going further away from our natural body cycle (which shortens our day, hence we “lose time”. When we fly westward, the day lengthens, hence we “gain time”).

Jet Lag Symptoms

Jet lag can make you lethargic, feel drowsy, loss of appetite and even diarrhea or constipation.

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How to Avoid Jet Lag - Jet lag Prevention

They say that prevention is better than cure. So before we look at how to cure jet lag, let us look at the following guides on how to manage and reduce the effects of jet lag.

Wear Comfortable Clothes

Sitting in an aircraft cabin can be uncomfortable. Wear comfortable and loose clothes that will not restrict movement. This will not only help with our blood circulation but also allow us to get the necessary rest and sleep.

Avoid drinks with caffeine as it will dehydrate the body and worsen the effect of jet lag
Avoid drinks with caffeine as it will dehydrate the body and worsen the effect of jet lag | Source

Alcohol, Coffee, Tea, Coke and Sodas with Caffeine

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when they fly is to drink alcohol. It is FREE and on some airlines, it is free flowing. Alcohol dehydrates our body and at high altitude, this gets even worse. It will even worsen any symptoms of jet lag.

Likewise, coffee, tea and all the sodas with caffeine will also dehydrate our body. Avoid these drinks not just during the flight, but even the night before the flight. Drink herbal tea or fruit juice, if necessary.

However, the best beverage to drink when flying, especially on long haul, is to drink lots of water.

Minimize Dehydration

We can also minimize dehydration by applying moisturizing cream on our face and body. Reapply when necessary. Some airlines even have mineral water mist that can be applied to the face. Mineral water has a better hydrating effect on the skin, as compared to ordinary tap water.

Limit Food Intake

During flight, try not to eat at all; just drink water. If this is tough, then eat less or eat fruits instead. If necessary, pack and bring some of the fruits, for the flight.

Blood Circulation

Move around the cabin as this will exercise our leg and will keep the blood circulation moving. It is known to help with jet lag.

Prepare Our Mind

Prepare for the destination by setting the watch to the new time. If scheduled to arrive at night, stay awake by watching all the inflight entertainment programs or read books. If scheduled to arrive in the morning, then sleep on the plane. Wearing an eye mask will help us to sleep, better.

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Move around to keep blood circulation moving, to help overcome jetlag
Move around to keep blood circulation moving, to help overcome jetlag | Source

Jet-Lag Natural Cures and Remedies

If after following the above guidelines, you are still jet-lagged, try the following remedies. However every individual will experience different levels of severity and there is no one remedy that will work for all. So try them all, just to be sure, in order to recover from jet-lag, faster.

Also, remember that jet-lag is not a health problem and symptoms of jet-lag are usually temporary. So don't be too overly worried. However, it does take away some of our valuable and productive time, especially when we are abroad on business or even on vacation

I have not included the use of chemical or herbal remedies, as recommendations for jet lag cure. They have not been tested and approved by any official agencies yet. Therefore it's best not to use them, as there are reports of bad experiences by some users.

The following remedies are natural remedies, which worked for most people.

Even with the presence of low-level light in your room can help you recover from jet lag
Even with the presence of low-level light in your room can help you recover from jet lag | Source

Light Therapy

Exposure to sunlight or even room lights can help with jet lag. If arriving during the daytime, take a walk around the hotel blocks and enjoy the sunshine. If arriving at night, then the room lights or better still, the bright lights in the hotel lobby will also work. Researchers at Queen Mary College, University of London concluded that changes in light as well as body heat could help minimize jet lag.

Fasting

Fasting is supposed to help us overcome changes to the time zone/body clock syndrome. So if jetlagged, don't take any food, except for water, for the rest of the day, until breakfast the next day. If required, have a light meal or fruits for dinner.

No Alcohol, Coffee, Tea, Coke or Sodas with Caffeine

Yes, none of the above drinks please, not until after breakfast the next day. Drink just plain water.

Bedtime and Short Nap

At the new destination, follow the normal bedtime routine as much as possible. This will help the body to readjust itself easily.

Taking a short nap in between schedules, will also be beneficial, to help us recover faster.

Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint essential oil has been used for asthma, bronchitis and lately, for jet lag. To use, you can either place a drop on your wrist, handkerchief or pillow, or inhale to soothe the discomfort associated with your jet lag.

Tip from Orlando Bloom on How to Avoid Jet Lag

His tips: Avoid alcohol during flight, but drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration AND hit the hotel gym on arrival!

Exercise to Shrug Off Jet Lag

Studies by researchers at Northwestern University and University of California in the USA show that if you exercise (go to the hotel swimming pool or the hotel gym); the changes in the protein that regulate the circadian rhythms will help you adjust to the different time zone faster. So, before you unpack, hit the gym or the pool!

See a Doctor

Finally, if the above still doesn't work and the jet-lag effect is giving more problems than it should be, see a doctor for advice.

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Don't Let Jet Lag Spoils the Trip - Apply the Above Jet lag Tips

Stress can also be another factor that contributes to jet-lag. So take a good rest the day before the flight, plan the itinerary well in advance and do the necessary packing and planning.

It is not often that we get to travel and for some of us, we get only so few numbers of annual leave. So do not waste these important and valued days recovering from your jet lag.

Stay calm and enjoy the flight.

Jet lag last night was like bad shrooms. When my dad asked what that meant I told him its like being in a musical you don't want to be in ~ Lady Gaga

© 2012 Mazlan

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    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      2 years ago from California

      Some very good ideas, Thank you.

    • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR

      Mazlan 

      6 years ago from Malaysia

      @lindacee , thanks for dropping by and commenting. Yes, please bookmark this article for your future travel, reference! Have a good day

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Love this advice. Could have used it flying back from South America last fall! Once, on a trip to Europe, I tried some OTC pills that were supposed to ease jet lag. Don't think they did much good. I would have been much better off following your handy tips!

    • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR

      Mazlan 

      6 years ago from Malaysia

      Simone, Wow. Not sleeping for 30 hours must be really tiring. Imagine having to clear the security, immigration and custom clearance when you can hardly open your eye. This is an amazing tip. If it works and not getting jet-lagged, I guess it's worth it. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      Great tips! What works for me every time is to not sleep AT ALL until bedtime of whatever destination I finally arrive in. Sometimes, this has involved staying up for more than 30 hours straight, but it's worth the effort.

    • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR

      Mazlan 

      6 years ago from Malaysia

      @ib radmasters, Thanks for sharing your experience with Melatonin pill. In my article, I had excluded any herbal and chemical based remedies for jet lag, and just presented the natural remedies. It will be a good idea if you can write your experience with this pill, as a HUB, as in some report; some users were having bad experiences.

    • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR

      Mazlan 

      6 years ago from Malaysia

      Om, California to Bangkok isn't as bad as Chicago to Kuala Lumpur. When I flew that sector, it was really tiring.

    • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR

      Mazlan 

      6 years ago from Malaysia

      @rfmoran. Thanks for the vote. I guess you wouldn't be needing this guide at all!

    • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR

      Mazlan 

      6 years ago from Malaysia

      @leahlefler. Thanks for sharing your story and thanks for the kind words.

    • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR

      Mazlan 

      6 years ago from Malaysia

      @JillKostow, I hope it will be useful when the time comes.

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 

      6 years ago from Southern California

      Taking Melatonin works for me. When I get to my destination, say CA to London, I take a Melatonin pill and I don't feel any Jet Lag. I also stay up till regular bedtime for the time zone that I am in at the time.

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 

      6 years ago

      I'm flying from California to Bangkok in November. I'll certainly keep all these tips in mind. Thanks for sharing :)

    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran - The Write Stuff 

      6 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Very solid and useful tips. Voted up and useful. Me, I try to avoid flying.

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 

      6 years ago from Western New York

      I had the worst jetlag when we flew between Los Angeles and Dublin (Ireland) - the 8 hour time change coupled with the 11 hour direct flight was killer! We were mixed up with times for about a week, and were often up at 3:00am! Your tips are very useful, and I wish I had them when we were making frequent intercontinental flights!

    • JillKostow profile image

      Jill Kostowskie 

      6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Very useful hub...I have never flown but I will definitely know what things to avoid if I do so that I can minimize the chances of having jet-lag.

    • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR

      Mazlan 

      6 years ago from Malaysia

      @CassyLu1981, Thanks for the votes and Sharing. Really appreciate that.

    • CassyLu1981 profile image

      CassyLu1981 

      6 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      Excellent tips!!!! With as much traveling as we do in this family it is always nice to know ways to make the jet-lag go away. Voted up, useful and shared :)

    • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR

      Mazlan 

      6 years ago from Malaysia

      @meloncauli. Glad this article has been helpful. Thanks again for commenting

    • meloncauli profile image

      meloncauli 

      6 years ago from UK

      Interesting hub greatstuff. Now, I learned something today!

    • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR

      Mazlan 

      6 years ago from Malaysia

      @krsharp05, a 3-4 days 'for recovery' is good. Some organization/country doesn't have that 'financial luxury' and the poor athletes had to endure the pressure and stress of the competition as well as travel stress. Thanks for sharing.

    • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR

      Mazlan 

      6 years ago from Malaysia

      @spartucusjones. Thanks for commenting. Flights that are more than 5hours tend to give us more problem and we tend to get jetlagged, even worse if we fly eastward.

    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 

      6 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Great information. When we used to travel for gymnastics meets, we would arrive 3-4 days early just to allow the athletes bodies time to adjust. It was even worse if we were changing altitude! -K

    • spartucusjones profile image

      CJ Baker 

      6 years ago from Parts Unknown

      The tips in your hub are very practical. I have only flew on a couple of occasions, but the jet lag has always been the toughest part of the trip. I will keeps these tips in mind for future travel.

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