After 16 hours long flight, I just wanted to sleep. Although the midnight had passed, my inner clock was set differently. I just came back from Mexico and my body was accustomed to completely different time zone. It was midnight, I was exhausted, but my body was saying it is not the time to sleep. For me, it was 5 pm. I was rotating in the bed until 5 am, cursing a jet lag.
What is jet lag?
Jet lag is a temporary disorder caused by a rapid change of time zones during the air travel. It is also known as time zone change syndrome or desynchronosis and it may cause insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, confusion, dizziness, headache and other physical and psychological symptoms. The intensity of the symptoms may vary according to person, a number of time zones changed and the way of travel. For example, I have no problems changing even seven time zones when I travel from east to west, but backward I don’t sleep for days. They say body can adjust to the new time zone at the rate of one or two zones per day. I would agree with it in the case of eastward travel, but when you travel westward you can adjust much faster (in day or two tops).
However, if in the following days you have some important obligations, time zone change can be a real pain in the ass. It is definitely not easy to wake up at 7 am if you couldn’t fall asleep until 5 am. I read lots of advice how to survive the jet lag, but some of them are just not so easy to apply. For example, they say you should start adjusting your body to the new time zone few days before the travel. Well, most of the people work or study and they cannot stay awake until 2 am just because they are traveling soon. Just because I can’t take a vacation before the actual vacation, here are some tips what I do in order to minimize jet lag symptoms when I’m changing more than three time zones.
Tips how to minimize jet lag symptoms
- Right after I am seated on the plane, I adjust my watch to the destination time. It helps me track how much hours of flight are left and adapt to new time since the beginning of a journey.
- I drink a lot. I always carry a bottle with me and I fill it up with water after passing the security control at the airport, if the water is drinkable. I also buy some juice, soda or more water at the airport. I know it is ridiculously expensive, but nothing is worse than dehydration after the long flight. I don’t like to depend on the drinks in the plane and I always make sure I have something to drink with me. Do not drink too much coffee or alcohol, though. It will make things worse.
- Since I started to sleep very light on the plane, I asked my doctor to give me some sleeping pills I can use during the longer travels. Some people may not need it, but I found myself feeling even more terrible after not having almost nothing sleep during the flight. On my way to Mexico, I took two pills short after the takeoff, completely forgetting the dinner is going to be served. The stewardess was three rows away from my seat with all the foods and drinks and somehow I managed to fall asleep until she reached me. 🙂 So be careful with the pills, you may miss your meal. 😀 I also found this pills which are supposed to make jet lag symptoms less present.
- When I arrive at the destination, I always try to adjust to new time zone as soon as possible. That means staying awake longer while traveling west, or trying to sleep earlier while traveling east. Also, I adjust my meals and I try to eat light food full of proteins in the adequate time.
- Take power naps. If you are super tired, there is no point in staying awake. Take a nap. I sleep maybe an hour or hour and a half what is enough to get some additional energy and go to bed at a normal time in the evening.