So let’s talk about everyone’s least favorite part of travel – Jet lag! We’ve all been there: After hours of traveling and dealing with dry air, cramped cabins, and lack of sleep, we get off the plane feeling drained and ready for a nap ASAP.
Well luckily there are some ways to help combat this dreaded side effect of travel, and below I’ve listed 5 tips that should help prevent, or at least lessen, jet lag during your next getaway.
Prepare Your Body for the Time Change
One of the best ways to prevent jet lag is to get your body used to the time change before you even leave! This can be done by acting like you are already in the location you are traveling to. Heading East? Start getting up earlier and going to bed earlier several days before you leave. How about westward travel? Stay up later and get up later to prepare your body for the time difference.
Research the aircraft you’re traveling on
We live in an amazing technological era, and fortunately a lot of plane companies have made advancements in cabin comfort over the years. Something not many people are aware of is that the cabin pressure and oxygen levels can vary depending on the plane you’re traveling on. Researching (or asking the company directly) what type of pressure levels a flight will have can make a huge impact on how you feel both during and after a flight. For example, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350 are said to be pressurized to 6,000 feet inside the cabin, instead of the average pressurization of 8,000 feet on many other aircrafts. Less pressure = less dehydration, less drowsiness, and less dryness in skin and nasal passages!
stay hydrated and Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine
As tempting as it is to use alcohol as a calming aid or caffeine as an upper during a long travel day, the effects of alcohol and caffeine at high altitudes will only increase tiredness and dehydration, making your jet lag symptoms even stronger. It’s best to avoid both of these and opt for lots of water before, during, and after your flight. Staying hydrated will help to combat the effects of low oxygen and dehydration that accompany your time spent in pressurized aircraft cabins.
By now we all know that exercise has numerous benefits, but it can also help your body adjust to changes in your bedtime too. One way to use exercise for decreasing jet lag is to add it into your routine regularly once you reach your destination, and do it at an appropriate time based on where you travel to. For example, If you are headed east to a location where you will need to fall asleep earlier than usual, getting in a strong workout that morning can help by using more of your body’s energy for the day, in turn allowing you to fall asleep earlier than you’re used to. The sooner you can get used to the time change the better, so exercise can help your body adapt quicker.
Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted by the pineal gland to help regulate our circadian rhythm. There have been numerous studies on melatonin supplements for use as a sleep aid and for helping to decrease jet lag. It can be especially helpful for eastward travel when we need to fall asleep earlier than usual. It typically takes 20-30 minutes to set in, so you can easily plan it into your travel schedule. For westward travel, taking it mid-flight can also help you get some extra sleep on the plane, allowing your body to be more alert later in the evening.
So the next time you plan a getaway I hope you will try some of these tips and let me know how they work out..Happy travels!