Life would have been so easy for frequent air travelers if they could set their body clock as easily as they set their wrist watch time. When the body fails to adjust to the new time zone while traveling by air, it shows symptoms of irritability, tiredness, sleeplessness and disorientation, we term it as a ‘jet lag’. Traveling from the west towards the east is known to be worse.
Though it is unavoidable, we can take steps to minimize its effects
Sleep is a very big factor to control jet lag. We should try to adjust our sleep pattern as per the new time zone. If we are embarking a journey to the east, we should start sleeping an hour early. Slowly 2 hours and then 3 as per the comfort of the body, and also get up accordingly. If the journey is westward the sleep hours can be delayed similarly. You can start following this schedule one month in advance. Some people adjust their watches as per the destination time to adapt their bodies to the new environment.
It is a good idea to prepare the body well in advance for traveling. We should exercise well, keep the body fit and build up the stamina of the body. A weak body is more susceptible to the trauma of a jet lag has too many difficulties coping.
One should avoid late nights, alcohol and too much partying just before a long journey. A rigorous schedule a night before the trip could make jet leg conditions even worse.
Experts recommend avoiding alcohol consumption just before, during and just after a long flight. It worsens nausea and dehydration, making jetlag difficult to cope with.
Caffeine content in beverages can disrupt sleep schedules, increase anxiety and lead to nausea and dehydration. All these are symptoms associated with jet lag too, so caffeine content should be kept to the minimal.
Water intake keeps the system fresh and prevents dehydration. During a long journey, it is common to suffer from the problem of loss of fluid content due to which the body becomes dehydrated. So drinking lots of water to counter the dry atmosphere inside the flight.
Mobility In flight
If the legs are stationary for a long while they can become stiff, swell, develop clots and pose discomfort. It is best to move around in the flight from time to time to facilitate blood circulation and alertness so that jet lag is reduced.
As per a very famous saying, we should be like the natives when in their land. If the body yearns to sleep on reaching the destination, but it is day time there, force it to stay awake. Also eat your meals as per the local time and not when the stomach signals to do so. Fresh air and daylight are enemies of jet lag, so just go for a walk, feel the air and fight away the jet lag!
If it’s a long journey, break your trips into smaller journeys with more stopovers. Stay in good hotels, take short naps and wear clothes that are comfortable. The body should be totally at ease.
Eat light and healthy food. Heavy foods slow down the metabolism and make us sluggish. On the other hand, fasting helps the body to re-adjust to the current schedule. 16 hours of fasting is adequate. So when in the flight avoid eating and resume your meals only after you land. On a personal note, fasting should be considered only if the system of the body allows so.