Jet lag, the dreaded two words that haunted me after my long journey from one time zone to another. The greater difference between the time zones, the worse the jet lag would be. I loved to travel but my body loved it’s cycles more. It was difficult for my body to keep up with the new pattern of day and night.
The last thing I wanted to come across after a tiring journey was the lack of sleep. I looked at the clock on the wall. It was way past my bed time but I was still on my phone texting my friends. Jet lag helped me find out what movies they were watching to pass time. They could sleep in late next morning but I had to wake up early to go and visit the local sights and not miss out on the free breakfast buffet that was included in my booking.
1. Choose Over-night Flights
“I need to sleep.What do I do?”, I messaged my friend who was probably in the middle of binge watching Breaking Bad for the third time.
“Next time take an over night flight”, he replied. His screen was probably orange now from the bag of Cheetos that he had been munching on.
“Why?”, I asked him with a little annoyance on my face which he couldn’t see.
“Isn’t it obvious? You can have your dinner on time and get some sleep while on your flight. This will be difficult in your midday flight. You will have to depend on your arrival timings to plan your sleep cycle.”, he answered.
“Not a bad suggestion, what else should I do?”,I asked further.
2. Plan your new sleep cycle in advance
“The next time you travel, start getting used to your new sleep cycle.”, he said.
“How do I do that?”, I inquired.
“For starters if your timeline is going to go through a 5 hours change. Eat your meals, take a shower and got sleep with this new 5 hour timeline.”
“Your body will get adapted to this new schedule by the time you arrive your destination”,he said.
Easy for him to say. He didn’t have a regular job.
3. “Avoid the Booze and Caffeine of the in-flight service.”
he said. “What kind of an idiot would do that?”, I said. “The kind of an idiot who doesn’t want to ask people how to get over jet lag at 5 am in the morning.”, he replied. “Go ahead and give me a good reason why”, I said. “Well, the sleep you get from alcohol is not solid enough to replenish you. Instead it will dehydrate your body.Besides, insides of flights are already cold enough because of which your skin will be slowly drying. Replace alcohol with water if you want to get a good sleep instead of draining sleep”
“Okay”, I said because he was right about the dehydrating feeling one would get from alcohol. This feeling was not the friend of a person who wanted to get some decent shut eye.
4. Fight the Urge
“Once you arrive, resist the urge to sleep whenever you want. Go out for a walk when you feel sleepy. The daylight will help in putting your sleep away. This is very helpful as it will exhaust you but will also help in aligning your body’s clock and metabolism to match that of the local people. This again will pay off when it is time for the locals to go to sleep. This will help getting over your jet lag as soon as possible without any extra effort.”, he explained as I picture walking around the busy markets and avoiding harsh traffic. The sights, the sounds and the smells would help me feel more alive and active. Then I would eat regular meals get exhausted and head back to my accommodation to get some sleep.
5. Get Help If Needed
“But what should I do now?”, I said. I was almost out of patience as he was only giving me tips for the future. Though the tips were helpful and insightful, none of them were going to help me right now. I needed some way to get sleep as soon as possible.
“Is there a dispensary or a medical store near by?”, he replied. “Yes. It is just down the street”
“Good” put on your shoes, walk over and ask for a strip of Melatonin”, he said ( always consult a doctor before taking any new medication). I assume he was running out of patience too and wanted to just get back to his binge watching.
“What is that?”, I inquired. “It is a pill which can help you sleep. It is a natural secretion produced by the body but if it is in low amounts, you will not be able to sleep properly. This results in insomnia at times.
In one study, this technique combined with a gradually advancing sleep schedule and light exposure upon waking helped participants gain an extra hour each day, significantly curtailing jet lag. Take 3mg about an hour before bedtime for three consecutive nights should do it.” he answered.
“Thanks. I will go now”, I replied to him.
“Thanks, I can finally get back to my binge watching now.Good luck with your jet lag”, he said and went offline.
Jet lag can be really annoying and hard for new as well as seasoned travelers.
The way you handle jet lag is important because a good sleep cycle is important in maintaining good health.
The quick five ways to get over jet lag are choosing overnight flights, planning and working sleep cycles a bit ahead of time, avoiding inflight alcohol, fighting the urge to sleep until the local sleeping time and more importantly right medication.
The are many apps like Jetlag Rooster which can help you get over your jet lag problems. Make the best use of all these techniques to have a good sleep whenever you travel.
Did I miss out on any tips or do you have any good ones you would like to share. Go ahead and do so in the comment section. Share this post with people who you think might need help with their jet lag disorder.
Author: The Brown Nomad
Also published on Medium.