There’s a long scientific explanation for jet lag but basically it’s a sleep disorder that results in extreme overtiredness from rapid long-distance trans-meridian (east–west or west–east) travel on long haul flights.
If you’re flying through multiple time zones, you’re going to be feeling a little out of sorts when you reach the other side. As a rule of thumb, experts say budget one day of recovery time for every time zone crossed. This isn’t great news for business travellers who sometimes have to go straight into important meeting as soon as they step off the plane. Likewise if you’re a leisure traveller, who would want to arrive in an exotic island destination and go to sleep!
Try some of the jet lag tips below next time you fly and perhaps you’ll be able to avoid jet lag.
Symptoms of Jet lag
Identifying the symptoms of jet lag is an important step if you’re going to prevent chronic jet lag. Jetlag symptoms are varied but can include any one or more of the following:
- Fatigue & insomnia
- Mild depression
- Constipation or diarrhea
As the old saying goes, prevention truly is the best cure when it comes to jetlag and there are some steps you can take in order to prevent jetlag. Some of these are obvious jet lag prevention tips are obvious but are often overlooked in favour of the inflight entertainment.
- Use the inflight entertainment in moderation. Staying up all night watching movies and playing games isn’t going to benefit you upon arrival at your destination.
- The same goes for the onboard catering. Try going easy on the snacks and beverages. I know they’re ‘free’ but excessive drinking and eating isn’t going to help much when you’re sitting in the economy class cabin on a long haul flight for the next 18 hours.
- When you’re thirsty drink water. I’m against saying drink lots of water and I guide myself by only drinking water when I’m thirsty instead of a Coke, beer or coffee.
- Check in early and reserve the best seat on a long haul flight. It is possible to be more comfortable in economy class – all it takes is some early initiative and some experience to get the best seat.
- Try some inflight exercises during the flight. These can make a world of difference by loosening up those stiff joints and refreshing sleeping muscles. Also take short walks around the cabin every hour or two.
- If your flight is going to be particularly long ask your travel consultant about possible stopovers. Although it may cost you a little more it might be worth it.
Remedies for Jet lag
While some seasoned travellers prefer holistic treatments for jetlag, others prefer the medicinal variety, while others just ‘grin and bear it’. Each to their own but I prefer preventing jet lag naturally rather than resorting to heavy medication that can leave you feeling groggy and ill when you eventually come out of it.
Read about the holistic travellers first aid kit.
Try the jet lag prevention tips outlined above. Some companies claim to have the ‘miracle jet lag prevention cure’ but in my opinion it’s better to adjust naturally. Finally, if you’re going to take something for jetlag then speak to your doctor first and don’t just take any old sleeping tablets.
Image: Ian Kershaw on Flickr