Long haul flights enable you to skip multiple time zones very fast. The problem is that your body does not follow so quick and you get something that is called jet lag. In simple words – jet lag plays with your biological clock and that the problem. Your body uses this clock to navigate when to release hormones that help you sleep, or wake you up by increasing your body temperature in the morning. When it’s disturbed, you can feel symptoms like insomnia, fatigue, daytime sleepiness or mild nausea. These symptoms aren’t dangerous, but they can impact your mood. In this post you will be able to find the best way to prevent jet lag.
I’ve collected all good ideas on how you can prevent jet lag or at least soften jet lag’s effects.
1. Time of your flight
Usually, when I’m flying east I start my business travel fly out on Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning. That gives me a day or so to adjust to new time zone. It helps a lot but you trade your weekend with family or friends for that but in return, you are fresh on a Monday morning.
Traveling west is a different story – I usually start my business trips with first flight in the morning to arrive, if possible in daylight – late afternoon or early evening. This enables me to stay awake until new time zone bed time.
2. Start Well-Rested
Get yourself a good sleep before your trip. Flying thousands of miles over the world is demanding for your body. If you leave already exhausted, then you will be devastated upon arrival to your destination. And remember – never, ever do the long-haul flights on a hangover. That’s challenging – believe me 🙂
3. Change your watch to the destination time zone
If you don’t use a watch, then do it with your cell phone, tablet or laptop. Just start to live in your new time zone as soon as possible. If you will start cheating your mind early enough, you can expect some softened effects of jet lag.
4. Sleeping in a plane
As it is said in the Forbes magazine – jet lag becomes a problem when you are traveling across at least two time zones. Starting from two time zones you should consider direction you travel before you take the decision to fell asleep. Skyscanner bloggers are saying that west is best, east is a beast. This means that traveling west you should move your bedtime later to make your day longer (our bodies tackle that better) and do the opposite flying east (move bedtime earlier).
That’s why you should try to sleep going east and avoid it going west. Of course, it’s crucial which seat you have. You can read about it in my other post: best seats in airplane. The best for you would be to fly with Business or First Class. In this case, you just turn your seat into a bed and you can sleep like a baby.
When you travel in economy class with no extra legroom seat, then you are in trouble, because your body generates adrenaline-like substances will keep the blood flow to your brain keeping you away from sleeping. For me it’s impossible to fall into a deep sleep (REM phase), that’s why I’m always trying to hunt for seats in the first rows to be able to stretch my legs.
5. What’s your kite?
Next thing – it’s also important what kind of aircraft you are flying with. You should know that Airbus A350s and A380s have the best, hi-tech humidification systems and LED lighting systems capable of creating 16.7 million shades of color to simulate natural phases of the day and air purification system which renews the air every two minutes. This will help you to stay hydrated and can be the best way to prevent jet lag during flight.
6. Watch your screen
Smartphones, ipads, and laptops emit blue-spectrum light which will activate you and you will be not able to fall asleep. I know it, but anyway I cannot resist operating with my electronics on board – that’s why, as I said – I can’t step into REM phase of dreams 🙂
7. Be careful with booze
Gin and tonic, red wine, beer – these are friends of many frequent travelers. I’ve met many people who declare that booze makes their flight much more comfortable. I just to think like that and I was following the advice to have some gin tonic drinks during the flight. But since I gained some experience in frequent traveling I can say that booze definitively is not the best way to prevent jet lag. I’ve realized that it can be the source of my exhaust after long-haul trips. In fact, it’s true – alcohol at altitude will increase your tiredness, cause dehydration and will make it even harder to beat the jet lag.
8. Stay hydrated
That was mentioned in some points above, but it is so important to stay hydrated that I have to put it in a separate point. I will quote my post on picking the best seats in airplane:
During the flight, you lose a lot of water from your body due to dry, air-conditioned air in the plane. The humidity is in the interval of 10 – 20 % – it’s like in the desert. Researchers show that during 10-hour flight you lose from 1,6 to 2 liter of water – it’s about 4% of water in your body. If you will skip drinking enough water, soon you will feel fatigue and your head will start to ache.
one remark from me at this point – be careful with too much water, especially if you’re in that window seat and your aisle seat passenger felt in deep sleep. Getting up to use the toilets frequently can be challenging
9. Order special meals – choose light meals
Use your booking reference code to log on your airline website and check if it’s possible to order any special meals. If so, take something that has “light” in the name. I’ve read that some recent studies show that fasting from food for 12 to 16 hours before your planned wake time can speed up your assimilation to the new time zone.
10. Medicines – sleeping pills and melatonin
If you intend to sleep on a plane, taking into consideration hints from point 4, you can use the pharmacy to support you in this task. There is a wide selection of sleep medications starting from prescription through over-the-counter and herbal. Each of these has different effects and side effects. It’s really important to consult with your doctor, which ones are appropriate for you. Furthermore, before you will take any medicines, consider your flight duration and action time of your medicines. I guess you don’t want to arrive at your destination dizzy and looking like you’ve lost.
Melatonin is a bit different story – researchers proved that 0,5 mg of melatonin applied just before bedtime in your new time zone can speed up your adaptation.
11. Avoid coffee or energy drinks
12. Sleeping aid gear
Remember the sentence about snoring plane fellows? Or screaming babies? To stay in good shape after flights you need to cancel these noises. To deal with it like a pro, you need to be equipped in following gear:
- Earplugs – it’s cheap and does its job when you decide to go to sleep
- Eye mask – do the same for your eyes what earplugs do for your ears – it cut’s the light.
- Travel pillow – I use the Cabeau Evolution Travel Pillow – it has air circulation vents and shrinks to 1/2 of its size
- Comfy outfit and a blanket to keep you warm (otherwise don’t count on good sleep)
- Headphones with noise canceling. I use Bose QuietComfort 25 wireless headphones II and I can really recommend it. I had always problems with headaches and since I’m using these headphones, it’s gone, and for me personally, this is the best way to prevent jet lag.
you should check if your travel class offers something called amenity kit. If yes, probably you will find there earplugs, eye mask, and blanket.
For those who would like to become senior experts in seeking the best way to prevent jet lag, the ReTimer Light Therapy Glasses could be a solution. It uses light therapy to help you adjust back to a normal sleep pattern. Base on the same principle Light therapy alarm clocks works. This is definitively a thing worth to consider while packing your luggage for a distant business travel.
13. Don’t go straight to company
If you think that’s a good idea to use the night flight to jump from the U.S. to Europe or from Europe to China and land in the morning – you are wrong. You will be really tired and dizzy. I guess it’s not the best description of a person who is going to negotiate something or deliver a training. Use a day or half a day to recover and then start your business.
14. Plan your jet lag
This one is good 🙂 You can find in web something what is called jet lag planner or jet lag calculator. You can try these two:
Have fun with that.
What is the best way to prevent jet lag?
Above mentioned points are mine core rules which help me to deal with jet lag. You can pick from the above list your best way to prevent jet lag. I’m wondering what are your’s ideas to tackle this topic – please, write in comments.
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