How to deal with jet lag when traveling: 9 tips from our travelers
Are you planning to travel across several time zones in a short time? Or are you currently travelling and feeling the effects of jet lag? No need to panic. Managing jetlag is possible. And while everyone adapts in their way, certain practices are known to alleviate symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, stomach knots, sleep disturbances and more. In the following few lines, discover the most effective tricks according to our team of travellers!
Help your body acclimatize
Two to three days before you leave, gradually adjust your habits according to the time zone of your destination. For example, stagger your bedtimes, wake-up times, and the time you eat. In this way, your body will acclimatize more quickly to the change, and the effects of jet lag will be reduced. It’s a must-have on your travel bucket list.
Good to know!
Do you have a solar lamp or, even better, a solar alarm clock? This is a highly relevant tool for getting your body to set its clock according to the time zones of your destination. For example, if it’s midday at your destination and 6 am here, wake up earlier with a good dose of artificial daylight. Set your alarm clock back a few minutes each day before you leave.
Choose a flight that arrives at the end of the day
If you can choose your flight times, do it! By selecting an afternoon or evening flight, you can rest more quickly. It will also keep you from wasting a whole day’s travel dozing through your every activity.
Plan for the hours following landing
Are you landing at your destination earlier in the day? Plan your activities accordingly. So even if you’re feeling the effects of jet lag, you won’t be overwhelmed. For example, you could drop your things off at the hotel room, explore the area on foot, take a tour of the local restaurants and cafés, and so on.
The urge to take a nap will probably be vital. It’s a well-known effect of jetlag! And although a bit of rest won’t hurt, avoid sleeping too long. This could delay the acclimatization of your biological clock to your new time zone. So prefer short naps (the famous “power naps”), even if it means interspersing them between your moderate activities.
Eat foods that digest well and quickly
Did you know that your body uses a significant amount of energy to digest? We can think of how we feel after a hearty meal to understand the phenomenon. And it does have a role to play when dealing with jetlag. Our best advice: instead of three meals a day, eat small meals throughout the day. As a result, you digest over shorter periods, helping to keep your energy levels stable.
So, perhaps you prefer foods that are easily digested. Starchy foods such as rice, pasta and bread are good examples. For proteins, white meats and vegetable protein sources are also more digestible.
On the plane
Especially if your flight lasts more than 4 hours, with no stopovers, there are certain practices you should put in place during the flight to your vacation destination:
Avoid coffee and alcohol and stay hydrated
You might think that coffee and flying don’t mix because of the beverage’s stimulating effect. However, it’s the dehydrating effect of coffee that we want to avoid here, in the same way as with alcohol.
According to experts and flight attendants, keeping well hydrated during the flight is one of the keys to managing jetlag! Hydration is thought to alleviate some of the symptoms of jetlag and to help improve alertness.
Encourage short naps
Are you the type of person who likes to take advantage of the time off your plane trip offers? It’s not necessarily bad! However, don’t sleep too long. Long hours of sleep between two time zones, especially if you’re heading east. While this rest is undoubtedly well-deserved, it can negatively affect your jetlag management.
Get out of your seat, walk, stretch! These flying habits help your circulatory functions and keep you wide awake. This advice applies even more to the elderly and pregnant women, as they are more prone to circulatory problems that can worsen at altitude (phlebitis, pressure drops, etc.).
You’ll also need to pack a few things to keep you busy, which you’ll put in your carry-on bag. Games, a book, a tablet, etc. This will ensure that you don’t get too bored during the flight.
From the minute the plane lands, the adrenaline starts pumping. It will take us a few hours to surf on this energy. But it doesn’t take long: fatigue catches up with us, and not just a little! A classic effect of jet lag. The good news is that there are a few things you can do to get back on track. Here they are:
Switch to the local way of life on arrival
Are you arriving around dinnertime? Despite your fatigue, get out of your hotel room, eat a light meal and get on with the activities on your agenda. And if the call of the siesta is too strong, lie down for a short nap in daylight before getting active again.
Your first day at your destination is the time to fight fatigue until sunset. This allows your circadian cycle to regulate itself; a must when you want to manage jetlag.
Fill up on light
Light changes have a considerable impact on our system – think of those days when the time changed. To acclimatize to local time, make the most of daylight. But be careful! If the sun is very intense and hot, put on your sunglasses, prefer the shade and, above all, stay hydrated.
Get moving as soon as you get up
The hotel bed is comfortable. You finally have time to enjoy a morning in bed… Getting out of the sheets will require a Herculean effort! But an effort which, on your first day alone, will pay off for your biological rhythm.
As soon as you open your eyes, get up and go about your business. This first day will probably be punctuated by moments of fatigue. One thing’s for sure: it will help you get over with jetlag.
Jet lag in brief
Jetlag will continue to raise questions. Here are just a few of the questions our experienced travellers took the time to answer:
How do you get used to jet lag?
The truth is, you never really get used to jet lag. That’s what makes it so unpleasant. Instead, it should be seen as a stage in regaining your usual energy. In other words, you can reduce the symptoms and shorten their duration, but the jetlag will still take its toll.
How to avoid jet lag symptoms?
Nausea, headaches and muscle pain are common symptoms of jet lag. Anti-nausea pills, melatonin and analgesic tablets are your best friends here, to be incorporated into your travel accessories for better jetlag management. Once again, ensuring optimal hydration at all times will make a big difference.
How long does it take to recover from jet lag?
This may depend on your destination but also various factors! For reasons unknown, some people are more vulnerable to the effects of jet lag and feel its effects for longer. It is, therefore, a subjective experience, the duration of which varies from person to person.
In general, however, a person would need 24 to 72 hours to recover from the biological impact of jetlag.
Which way is jet lag the hardest?
The journey east is undeniably more impactful. This is explained by the nature of our biological clock, which is set according to the 24 hours of the day. It’s easier to travel west and lengthen the day in the brightness than to shorten it by going east, where the day falls earlier.
How do you deal with jetlag on your return?
Jet lag on the way back is generally easier on the body and mind. Nevertheless, you may still be exhausted! Logically, the same advice applies here. Stay hydrated, acclimatize to the local rhythm, take advantage of daylight, etc.