Coping with Jet Lag

What is Jet Lag? Crossing time zones disrupts the body clock which regulates sleep, wakefulness and our productivity in general; this leads to irritability, fatigue, insomnia, poor concentration, loss of appetite, and other discomforts.

Can Jet Lag be prevented? A number of strategies have been developed to prevent jet lag but the general consensus is like motion sickness, there are certain people who are more predisposed to jet lag than others.  Jet lag, like colds, cannot really be prevented but measures can be adapted to minimize the length of its effects.

The Rx Way

  • No-Jet-Lag, as its literature claims, is “a safe and effective remedy for countering jet lag, in the form of easy-to-take tablets. Its effectiveness has been proven in a scientific trial of round-the-world passengers and confirmed by long haul flight attendants in a test conducted in cooperation with their union.” It also claims to be compatible with all kinds of medication and to have no side-effects. Always consult your doctor before trying out any new medication, even if it is an over the counter drug.
  • Melatonin manipulates a certain hormone in your body; it is administered days before you travel. However, research has shown if it is taken within too early or too late before the date of travel, it makes  jet lag worse.

The Anti-Jet Lag Diet Way. The Anti-Jet-Lag Diet was developed by Dr. Charles F. Ehret of Argonne National Laboratories; he prescribes alternates days of feasting and fasting starting four days before your date of departure:

  • Feasting includes high-protein breakfasts and lunches, high-carbohydrate dinners;
  • Fasting includes days of small, low-calorie meals.

The Cliché Way

  • Exercise regularly to build stamina;
  • Eat healthy foods, like green leafy vegetables and fruits;
  • Chew gum to alleviate pressure build-up in your ears;
  • A good night’s sleep; with naps during long flights;
  • Avoid unnecessary stress; pay your bills, finish your work and do not get hung over before you travel;
  • Drink plenty of fluids during the flight, but avoid alcoholic beverages and too much caffeine;
  • Take advantage of airline sleeping aids such as blindfolds, ear plugs and neck pillows to catch a power nap;
  • If it is possible to stand during the flight, stand up, stretch and walk a little;
  • Wear comfortable clothes;
  • Shower before you leave to refresh your senses;
  • Set your watch to the time of your destination before you board the plane;
  • Eat meals at times that are as close as possible to the meal times of your destination;
  • Bring an interesting book or magazine;
  • If the person sitting next to you seems friendly, engage in small talk and make a new friend;
  • East vs. West. Some people believe that flying east or westward causes jet lag; scientists argue that such claims are more a question of personal preference and do not have any scientific basis;
  • Night vs. day flights. Another question of personal preference; and finally,
  • Have fun!
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