Tricks to Fighting Jet Lag

You feel tired, headachy, disoriented. You can't concentrate and your body aches. The flu? Allergies? Food poisoning? No, it's jet lag, the price you pay for flying around the globe.

 

Jet lag is your body's way of reminding you it's not designed to travel long distances above the earth at high speeds. Even experienced business flyers often feel rotten after soaring the skies, but you can hold jet lag at bay with a few simple tricks used by frequent flyers everywhere.


Time-Travel Before You Set Foot on the Plane

You'll never get jet lag on a flight that starts and ends on the same coast. For example, if you depart from Vancouver, Canada, and land in Los Cabos, Mexico, you'll be sick of flying but you won't be lagged. Jet lag happens when you traverse time zones and your body thinks it's time for bed when, in fact, you have a lunch date with an important client.

Help your body adjust by starting the time zone switch a week or so before you depart. If you're heading east, go to sleep a little earlier each day; if you're flying west, move your bedtimes gradually later. This preparation goes a long way toward acclimating your body for the changes to come.


Drink Responsibly (and Make It Water)

At home, a glass of wine may relax you before bedtime, but at 45,000 feet, it's a different story. Alcohol increases in potency at higher altitudes—one drink in the air is equal to three at home. Alcohol dehydrates you and leads to fragmented sleep. No caffeine on flying day, either. It stays in your system for a long time, preventing quality sleep.

Instead, just reach for water, the beverage that hydrates you without ill effects. Some experts recommend that, thirsty or not, you should down 8 ounces of water hourly if you’re in the air. You may want to temper this somewhat to avoid frequent bathroom trips.


Miles to Go Before I Sleep

Travel can be extremely tiring, so get as much sleep as possible on the plane. First class or business class seats make this easier to accomplish, but if you’re in coach, pick a window rather than an aisle seat to avoid those disturbances when your row mates want out. Put together a "toolbox" of little gadgets that help you rest. Include an eye mask, neck pillow, ear plugs and—since keeping your body warm is key to nodding off—a blanket. Check with the airline before you fly to see if these things are offered on the trip. A thoughtful book choice helps, too.


When in Rome

The moment your feet hit the pavement in your destination city, change your watch to local time and act as if you were born in that time zone. Once you put your suitcase in your guest room, go outside and take a walk if it's still light. Light is the most powerful regulator of your internal clock, especially when combined with exercise. The combination eases jet lag by reminding your body that it’s time to be awake. Don't try to be a superhero and schedule meetings immediately after you land. Give yourself at least a few hours to relax, or, ideally, wait until the next morning to swing into action.

Discover more travel tips and recommendations here.

 

 




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