Tips to Combat Jet Lag when Traveling Abroad

Tips to Combat Jet Lag when Traveling Abroad

Some people find it easy to combat jet lag when traveling abroad while others suffer badly. It is important to understand what jet lag is. It is more than simply tiredness or inability to sleep due to a transition between time zones. Your body’s circadian rhythm is upset: this is a 24-hour biological clock relating to how your body functions over a 24 hour period. If you disrupt these routines then your whole body can be affected.

Jet lag can affect your concentration and memory and also lead to appetite loss, bowel issues and other unpleasant conditions. Extreme fatigue is common and there is no universal way to combat jet lag. It affects different people in different ways. It is easier and quicker to overcome jet lag if you travel east to west due to the earth rotating counter-clockwise, and time zones being more quickly flown through.

Here are some tips that will help you minimize the effects of jet lag and get your circadian rhythm back into sync with your new time zone.

1. Start preparing at home

First, find the time zone of the country you are visiting. If you are flying from New York to Hong Kong or Singapore, your destination will be 12 hours ahead of you. Midnight in New York is 12 noon in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Understand when you will reach your destination in terms of bedtime at your normal time zone and your new time zone. Ideally, you should work towards gradually changing your sleeping time towards what it will be when you travel.

2. Choose the best flight times

This can work for long flights and large time zone differences. A 16-hour flight overnight from New York to Hong Kong or Singapore arrives 28 hours from takeoff. That’s 16 hrs travel and 12 hours difference in time zones. Leave at around 5 pm (in normal time), try to sleep on the plane till around 10 pm and arrive next day at 9 pm (in destination time), making it easier to go straight to bed and wake up at the correct time for you in your new time zone.

3. Arrive in daylight

An alternative option is to arrive at your destination in the afternoon (destination time). You will be more likely to stay awake for a few hours sightseeing than if you arrived early morning. Ideally, you want to remain awake until your normal bedtime in your new time zone. You will overcome jet lag quicker if you can leave sleeping until as close to 10 pm as possible at your destination’s time.

4. Avoid sleeping on the plane

If your flight arrives at its destination in the evening in terms of the destination time zone, then try not to sleep too much on the plane – in fact, it’s best if you do not sleep at all (unless on a long haul flight of over 12 flying hours ) or at most just doze for a short while. Then you will find it easier to sleep when you arrive.

5. Try living in destination time

One of the best tips to combat jet lag is to set your watch to the new time zone before you go. Gradually work towards living that zone before you fly and you will be at least part way there. Since you are unlikely to be sleeping at your usual times it helps to have a good, comfortable mattress to help you sleep. Check out some of the best mattresses available to enable you to achieve this.

Let’s say you are traveling from New York to the UK. First set your watch 5 hours forward. Reset it back to Eastern time on the morning of the day you travel so you don’t get mixed up, then set it forward again on the plane. You should then be more used to living the new time zone.

6. Avoid alcohol, sleeping pills, and caffeine

Alcohol and sleeping pills may send you to sleep when preparing for your new time zone, but they will not provide refreshing sleep. You will still feel tired when you wake up. Caffeine will keep you awake and extend the time needed to overcome jet lag. So give the coffee and coke a miss. Herbal teas will help you slip into a deep, refreshing sleep, but only if you are sleeping in your new time zone. Water will keep you hydrated and help you avoid jet lag.

Tips to Combat Jet Lag: Conclusion

By following the above tips to combat jet lag while traveling abroad, you should be able to enjoy your vacation or business trip without feeling the symptoms of this condition. Controlling your sleep in-flight is key to being able to slip into a regular routine in your new time zone.

This is a contribution from one of our contributing writers.


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