Preventing Jet Lag
The jet-setting lifestyle has its perks, but you also run the risk of a serious case of jet lag, which can slow you down once you arrive at your final destination. Symptoms of jet lag often include exhaustion, sleep difficulty, trouble concentrating, headaches, an overall unwell feeling and digestive issues, such as diarrhea or constipation. Any of those symptoms puts a damper on your business or personal travel plans. Whether you’re traveling across the country or across the ocean, our jet lag tips help you recover faster, so you can make the most of your trip.
What Causes Jet Lag?
The easy explanation is that jet lag happens when you travel to a new time zone, which throws off your normal schedule. When we dig deeper, we find that jet lag happens due to an imbalance in your biological clock. That inner clock runs on a 24-hour schedule based on your normal schedule and your exposure to sunlight. It helps your body know when to wake and rise.
When you cross several time zones, suddenly that schedule is out of rhythm. The sunlight hours don’t line up with your home time zone. Normal meal times are different. You may be ready to dive into your itinerary, but your body is slower to adapt to the new time zone. Jet lag typically strikes when you travel across two or more time zones. The length and intensity of your jet lag symptoms tend to increase in proportion to the number of time zones you cross.
Other factors can contribute to how much you feel the effects of jet lag. Some of those factors include:
- Age: Children tend to bounce back from jet lag faster than adults do. The older you are, the more difficult it may be to recover from jet lag quickly. You can’t change your age, but knowing what to expect can help you prepare.
- Condition before flying: Your state before getting on the plane can affect how well your body adjusts to the time change. If you’re already tired or you’re stressed, anxious, hung over or otherwise out of sorts, you may end up with major jet lag.
- Travel direction: Travelers tend to struggle more when traveling from west to east. On those trips, you lose time and may find it difficult to adjust your sleep schedule.
- Plane atmosphere: The environment of airplanes isn’t exactly the most comfortable. The air is often dry and stale. Add in the cabin pressure that comes at your cruising altitude, and it may leave you feeling dehydrated and lethargic, which adds to normal jet lag symptoms.
- Food and drink consumption: The food and drink you consume before and during your flight can contribute to jet lag, especially if alcohol is involved. Caffeine and acidic foods can also mess with your body, making digestive symptoms worse.
- Limited movement: If you’re heading to a significantly different time zone, you’re likely going to spend a good chunk of time on the airplane. This means you won’t get to move around as much as you would on the ground, which can cause you to feel uncomfortable and lethargic, which compounds jet lag.
Learning how to prevent jet lag requires you to take preventative measures in each of those areas to minimize the effects. Some, such as your age and your travel direction, are out of your control, but others are things you can prepare for.
Preparing for the Flight
A well-rested traveler is less likely to feel the effects of jet lag. Simple steps to create a more restful trip can help. The timing of your trip can influence whether or not you get jet lag and just how severe your jet lag is. A flight that arrives at the destination in the late afternoon or early evening is ideal. You’ll only need to stay up for a few hours after arriving before you can go to bed at a relatively normal time for that time zone.
Another way to prepare your body for the new time zone is to start gradually shifting your schedule before you leave. Move your bedtime and wake-up time earlier or later, depending on which direction you’re traveling, to get closer to the schedule in your destination. Shifting your meal times can also help when you arrive. You don’t have to fully change to the destination schedule before you leave, but closing the gap in time makes the transition a little easier.
Plan the days leading up to your trip to create a relaxed tone. Handle your packing and all of your last-minute tasks well in advance, so you aren’t stuck scrambling the day before you leave. If you’re traveling on business, ensure all presentations, materials and pre-trip tasks are complete in advance to reduce last-minute stress. Confirm your travel plans in advance to minimize disruptions to your schedule.
One simple trick is to tell yourself that your departure date is one or two days earlier than it actually is. Handle all of those preparation tasks as if you are actually leaving on that earlier date. That gives you the day or two before to rest and prepare mentally for the trip.
If you’re planning to meet up with friends before you leave town, meet early and skip the drinks, or schedule the outing a few days before you leave. Staying out late the night before you leave and consuming alcohol leaves you tired and hung over.
Go to bed at a time that allows for plenty of rest on the night before you travel. If you’ve handled all of your packing and prep work ahead of time, you are more likely to get a restful night of sleep. Traveling can be draining, so having that rest lets you navigate the airport easily and minimize jet lag.
Travel-Day Tips to Avoid Jet Lag
Travel day has arrived. You’re full of excitement and anticipation. You’ve followed all the tips on how to avoid jet lag, but the work is not over yet. The way you approach travel day and the flight itself can also help minimize the effects of jet lag.
Follow these tips to stay alert and prevent jet lag:
- Choose a comfortable seat: Giving yourself extra room and a comfortable seat eases the aches, pains and exhaustion of air travel. Book a seat in business or first class to give yourself more room to move and stretch out to rest. Traveling by private jet is another option that gives you the freedom to travel comfortably.
- Move during the flight: It’s tough to stay active on a flight, but moving helps minimize jet lag. Walking up and down the aisle gets your blood pumping and stretches your muscles. You can also do little stretches in your seat to keep your muscles loose. If you’re flying first class, you’ll have more room to move around in your seat. Stretch your legs, flex your feet, pull your knees up to your chest, stretch your arms and perform other similar moves for exercise in your seat.
- Sleep: Snoozing on your flight, especially if you’re flying overnight, helps your body get the rest it needs. Keep in mind that sleeping too much on the flight can throw you off when you land, especially if you arrive to your destination during daytime hours.
- Skip caffeine and alcohol: Caffeine can throw off your body even more, which complicates your jet lag symptoms. Alcohol tends to have a stronger effect on your body in flight, which can cause you to feel lethargic or cause a hangover when you arrive.
- Hydrate: Drinking plenty of water before and during your flight helps combat the dry air in the plane. You’ll also need to make more trips to the restroom, which gives you an extra reason to get up and move.
- Relax: If you don’t like to fly or you have an important business meeting as part of the trip, relaxing can be a challenge. When possible, find simple ways to relax through breathing exercises, meditation or visualization to keep yourself calm.
- Change your mindset: It’s easy to get caught up in what time it is at home, but shift your thoughts to your destination on travel day. Change your watch to the time in your destination as soon as you board the plane. Get in the mindset of the time of day in your destination. For example, if you’re arriving at dinnertime, prepare yourself for eating your evening meal and taking part in evening activities rather than thinking about your neighbors just waking up for the day.
What to Do After You Arrive
You made it to your destination, but you’re not done trying to avoid jet lag. You may be tempted to take a quick nap once you arrive. Avoid that temptation. Even a quick catnap can throw off your schedule even more.
The best approach is to get your body adjusted to the new time zone as fast as possible. Jump right in with the normal activities of that time of day in your destination. Take a walk around your hotel area to take in the sights of the city. Getting fresh air and exercise helps wake up your body and chase away the jet lag. If the sun is still out in your destination city, the light can also help your body get into the new rhythm of that time zone.
Head back to your hotel for an early bedtime based on the local time. This allows you to get plenty of sleep on your first night in the new time zone, and your body will be ready for it after a long day of travel. Depending on which direction you travel, you may wake up very early local time. If you can’t fall back asleep, start your second day early, so you can pack in plenty of activities.
Jet Lag Remedies - How To Recover From Jet Lag
Whether or not you take time to avoid the symptoms of jet leg, you may still feel a little drowsy and in search of a cure for jet lag. In general, your body tends to take up to one day to adjust for each time zone
to adjust to the new local time. If you cross four time zones to get to your destination, it could take up to four days to fully acclimate to the new schedule. Knowing how to deal with jet lag symptoms can ease the transition into the new time zone. The overall goal is to get your body adjusted to the new time zone quickly.
To help your body recover, learn how to recover from jet lag with these tips:
- Soak up the sun: If the sun is shining, spend time outdoors. Since your body uses sunlight as a way to set your internal clock, going outdoors during daylight hours helps your clock reset to local time. For eastward travel to an earlier time zone, focus more on morning sunlight. If you’re traveling westward to a later time zone, spend more time in the later afternoon and evening sunlight.
- Create a restful environment: Staying at a hotel can sometimes make sleep difficult. If you don’t sleep well, your body won’t feel rested and you’ll have more difficulty overcoming your jet lag. Bringing comfort items from home can help you sleep more soundly. An eye mask and ear plugs can help minimize sleep disturbances.
- Follow the local schedule: Force your body to follow the local schedule, even if you feel exhausted. It can be difficult in the beginning to push through your exhaustion, but your body will quickly adjust.
- Use caution with sleep aids: Some people rely on sleeping pills to sleep during nighttime hours in the new time zone, but those pills can cause more problems. Relying on medication to sleep denies your body the chance to naturally adjust to the new time zone and sleep schedule. Use these pills with caution, as they can leave you feeling groggy or cause other side effects. Always follow recommended dosing and warnings on the package.
- Consider melatonin: An alternative to sleeping pills is melatonin. This supplement may help regulate your sleep. Take melatonin based on the package dosing before you go to bed. It can help you sleep better to get on the schedule of your new time zone.
- Treat symptoms: If you have specific symptoms of jet lag other than exhausting, treating them can help you feel a little better. For example, if you have a headache due to jet lag, taking pain reliever or using other pain relief techniques can ease the headache and help you get back on schedule.
- Consume caffeine in moderation: Some people use caffeine as a way to stay awake during the day upon arrival. While a limited amount of caffeine may help, don’t go overboard. Too much caffeine or caffeinated beverages consumed late in the day can interrupt your sleep patterns and make it difficult to get onto a regular schedule.
When you know how to cure jet lag, traveling becomes a lot more enjoyable. Let us help you ease your jet lag even more with help from private staff. Fly on a private jet to make the trip more relaxing with a private aircraft crew
on board. If you’re traveling for business, take along a traveling personal assistants
to handle the details, so you can focus on recovering from jet lag.
Don’t keep these jet lag tips to yourself. Share with your jet-setting friends, and check out our other blog posts for more travel tips to match your luxury lifestyle.Page Updated October 5, 2017