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Jet lag can last for days and effects people in different ways. The biggest culprit is having your body clock completely out of whack. You know the one, where you are awake at the wrong time and are wide awake when you should be asleep.

Other symptoms include feeling lethargic, loss of concentration, feeling irritable, headache and digestive issues.

The before thought.

The day has arrived and you are all excited and eager to get going on your long awaited holiday.

The only thing that stands in your way is the drive to the airport, checking in, waiting in the lounge three hours before your flight, boarding the plane, waiting for take off, spending hours upon hours in an upright seat, getting off, collecting your baggage, waiting for hotel transfers, waiting to check into your hotel room etc…

OK, time to party right!

I’ve been on many long haul flights and sometimes I’m good to go but other times I’m exhausted. I can’t think straight, almost delirious, like it just took me a week to get here.

Yes travel rocks but long haul flights suck!

Ever heard the term, West is best & East is a beast. For Aussie travelers that means if you are heading to Europe for example, your jet lag would be worse on the way home. This is because it’s easier to travel in a direction that lengthens the day-West, than to travel in a direction that shortens the day- East.

This was confirmed when I came back from a three week trip across Europe and fell into a mess for the next 5 days. It was the first time I had ever experienced jet lag and it hit me like a truck. I couldn’t function, unable to get my body clock back to normal. i was awake when I should have been asleep and asleep when I should have been awake. What a nightmare!

Maybe you won’t be able to fully dodge the effects of jet lag but you can certainly try make yourself less prone.

Ways to reduce and eliminate jet lag.

Try to get a good nights sleep before you go.

Easier said than done right. The sheer excitement or anxiousness you experience can throw that theory out the window. Not to mention taking an early morning flight that requires you to get up at 3 am.

Preparing for your new time zone

Heading to the US via Australia has you reliving the entire day all over again. You usually end up arriving before the time you actually left home because of the time difference. I once landed in San Diego and decided to take a quick nap at noon. I woke up and 10 pm and spent the entire night awake. What a balls up!

If your final destination has you arriving in the morning, try to sleep a little on your flight even if it is broken up because you’ll need to stay awake for the remainder of the day. Take an eye mask to make it easier. Once you arrive get out into the day light and push yourself to at least the early evening. You’ll wake up the next morning ready to go.

Adjust your clock

You really need to prepare for your new time zone so set your watch and phone as soon as you get on board. Flight attendants will get everyone to close their windows and dim the lights in the cabin in order for you to start adjusting to your destination.

Avoid alcohol & caffeine:

I’m definitely known to down a gin and tonic or two in order to “pass out” on a long haul flight. Unfortunately it isn’t doing you any favors. And whilst caffeine may prolong your desire to sleep, it too isn’t helping. Both can add to the dehydration that may people already experience so avoid it. Drink plenty of water  because being hydrated means less jet lag.

Take noise reducing headphones or ear plugs.

A return trip from US may be the most sleep deprived I have ever experienced. A man some 10 rows back was the loudest snorer I had heard in my life. I’m sure those on the ground were looking up and wandering what “that noise” was. It had gone beyond obscene when several hours later it hadn’t stopped. I couldn’t escape it and unbeknownst to him, the whole plane looked irritated. We were all hoping the flight attendants might nudge him but they didn’t. I’m sure they were all in hysterics out the back.

So whether it’s snorers, engine noise or those poor screaming babies get yourself some ear plugs and try to get some sleep.

Move around as often as possible.

There is nothing better than that moment when you land and go to put on your shoes and they don’t fit. it appears that your feet and lower legs have strangely doubled in size which will look just perfect when you’re sitting around the resort pool in the next hour or so.

MOVE MOVE MOVE whenever possible. People located by the window may feel awkward waking up the aisle passenger but it’s better than walking off with tree trunks in your pants. Poor circulation doesn’t help the jet lag, try doing some calf raises and circling the ankles to promote blood flow.

Careful what and when you eat:

There are many studies suggesting that the time we eat in flight may be a factor to jet lag. It is now coming to light that we should be eating at the time it is at wherever it is we are going. So if it’s the middle of the night we should not be chowing down.

But food is such a comfort when traveling. it passes the time, it’s something to do. Like sleep patterns, it is recommended to stick to meal patterns also.

Avoid high fatty foods, sugar and too much salt.

Bummer!

Performance Hydration Tablets:

Airports around the world now sell these in either tablet or ready to go liquid form. Personally I’m sold on this one. Companies like 1 ABOVE sell this stuff like hot cakes,the reviews are great and it  tastes good.

I really do feel hydrated when I drink it and so I’m giving it the thumbs up.

Be sure to drink plenty of water in general during your flight.

Try a stopover 

Breaking up your flight with a stop over may be a good idea. If you have a layover en-route  longer than 5 hours I’d definitely consider it.

Not only will you break up that monotonous air time but you’ll get to see a little of another destination. You may think 5 hours isn’t that long to wait but add tiredness, the need for a shower and being stuck in a airport and  it starts to makes sense.

Travel rocks long haul flights suck

My carry on essentials include:

Tooth brush, socks, lip balm, travel pillow, hydration tablets & noise reducing earplugs.

In short:
  1. Try to sleep on board based on your new time zone
  2. Avoid alcohol .caffeine and other stimulants
  3. Drink plenty of water & take hydration tablets as directed
  4. Use an eye mask and ear plugs to drown out noise and light
  5. Don’t overeat. Eat based on your destination time. Avoid high fats, salt and sugar.
  6. Adjust your watch and phone immediately to your new time zone
  7. Move around every hour or so to promote circulation
  8. Arrange a stopover for extremely long lay overs (more than 5 hours)

 

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