When you’re going on a vacation or business trip dealing with jet lag (desynchronosis in medical speak) is the last thing you need. Recovery rate of one day per zone travelled is usually recommended. By the time you get rid of jet lag, it’s time to go home. If you feel tired or sleepy when travelling, try these tips to beat jet lag.
Stick to your regular schedule
Keep your watch set to your ‘home’ time and continue living according to that time in a new time zone if you are staying there for a few days. Do what you’d normally do at home—eat at the same time, sleep at your normal bedtime and the same amount of hours etc.
Jet lag results from alterations to natural circadian rhythms. Usually the problem is worse when travelling from west to east. Doing the same routines will trick your body into believing it hasn’t travelled. If your travel is longer than a few days then you need to stick to the time zone of the place. You might have to tough out a few hours until it’s nighttime at your destination. Following your new schedule will help adjust your circadian rhythms.
Adjusting to the new routine can start at home. A few days before you travel get up and go to bed according to the destination’s time. Go to bed earlier if travelling eastward, and later if going in the westward direction.
Drink plenty of water
Jet lag can be made worse by becoming dehydrated on the plane. Make sure to drink plenty of water before, after and during the flight. Alcohol will make the issue worse plus it will make you gassy. If you absolutely cannot travel without drinking, follow up on booze with a glass of water. Avoid caffeine as it dehydrates and also makes one needlessly alert.
One of the best ways to minimize jet lag is to do exercise. You can walk back and forth every hour while on the airplane. Do a few simple stretches and breathing exercises. When you arrive, go for a brisk walk if you have time. Yoga and stretching will help you to re-adjust too. Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous to have benefits. Increasing temperature in the morning via exercise has been shown to adjust circadian rhythms so it should work really well for jet lag.
Seasoned travellers swear by melatonin. It’s cheap, fast-acting and has no side effects. Have 1 to 3 g of melatonin a day before you travel. Have another dose on the airplane before sleeping and ideally when it’s night time at the destination so you are already tuning your body for a new timetable. Then have some melatonin on your arrival when going to bed, and take it for two more days. One possible side-effect is more vivid dreams. Melatonin works best when taken at the same time and about thirty minutes before sleep.
Somewhat unconventional technique
Some people call it “earthing”. It was recommended to me by my professor of traditional chinese medicine. This technique has not been tested out yet but theoretically it should work very well. Upon landing in the country of your destination go and lie down on the ground. It has to be real earth and not concrete. In this way your body is re-adjusting to some geo-electrical earth lines which takes the jet lag away. Walking barefoot on the grass for 20 minutes seem to work just as well.