Travelling to a different time zone this summer? Plan ahead, to avoid or reduce the symptoms of “jet lag.”
1) Avoid leaving everything to the last minute. Being organized long before your travel date ensures a calmer state of mind on your trip. Get plenty of rest and relaxation the day before you travel: One or two (consecutive) nights of adequate sleep positively affects your brain and body for at least 24 hours. Perhaps take short naps during the day, if you can. The goal is to be calm and well-rested before boarding the plane. Being sleep deprived as well as irritable because you were overwhelmed with last-minute details, will amplify jet lag symptoms.
2) When you board the plane, reset your watch to your destination’s time. Begin adapting your daily habits to that time. For example, if you fly mid-morning, but the clock time of your destination is 5 p.m., pretend it’s almost dinner time (bring snacks or a light meal as your evening “meal”). Try to sleep when it will be late evening in your destination, even if it’s still early at home. When you land, adapt your habits and schedule immediately to your new surroundings: eat, sleep, exercise, etc., according to the new time. Before you leave on your trip, check with your doctor about taking time-sensitive medications. TIP: When you reach your destination, expose yourself to sunlight as soon as possible. It can help your body adjust to the new time zone.
3) Diet matters, too. A good balance of protein to carbohydrate (carbs) will keep you alert, yet still allow you to relax enough to get some shut-eye on the plane, if you need to. A meal very high in carbs or simple sugars (juices, soda pop, bread, crackers, candies, cookies and other baked goods) will make you feel drowsy unless you burn off the carbs right away with exercise! And a meal very rich in protein will keep you too alert to sleep on the flight. Ideally, your meals and snacks should include complex carbs with a small amount of a protein-rich food like eggs, cheese, meats, fish, nuts or dairy products. Good choices include a sandwich of chicken or peanut butter with veggies – or fruit, like an apple with a handful of nuts. Vegetables alone are also a good choice as they have a fairly balanced ratio of protein to carbohydrate.
4) Dehydration is also a big contributor to the fatigue associated with jet lag. Drink sufficient water on your flight. Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine at least 24 hours before, and while on the flight. These beverages are mildly dehydrating and, in some individuals, may negatively affect energy levels and mood.
Planning ahead may ensure you enjoy your trip as soon as you step off the plane!
Eve Lees is a Health Writer & Speaker and a Nutrition Counsellor. She was a Personal Trainer for over 30 years. www.artnews-healthnews.com