Are you feeling the urge to travel but dread the symptoms of jet lag? Time off is golden for most of us and it’s a shame to spend any of it recovering from exhaustion. Jet lag can’t be entirely avoided, but it doesn’t have to be so bad you spend your first few days napping when you reach your destination.


Helpful Advice For During and After The Flight
General feelings of exhaustion, digestive issues, headache, and difficulty concentrating are considered the worst symptoms of jet lag. Research shows that each time zone a person travels through equals one day of recovery, and if you’ve only got two to three weeks before you must head back, that’s quite a chunk of time.

Following are a few practical ideas that have helped many others save their vacation time for fun, not sleeping off a bad case of jet lag.

Be Flexible and Try To Rest Well Before You Fly
Travelers who try to match personal schedules to their destination time zones a few days before they leave find they have less of a problem with jet lag.

  • Avoiding sleep, hoping to rest on the plane, could make it even more difficult to adjust to new time zones.
  • Many find that a good night’s rest before they leave puts them in a better position to deal with jet lag. 

Day or Night Person?
Whatever time of day you are normally most active is usually the best time to arrive. If you’re used to daytime hours and get there when the sun is shining, staying awake and enjoying the day is often much easier.

High-Tech Flying Can Really Help
Some airlines will offer a meal, movie and other amenities but not all of them offer help for the senses. Flying in a cabin with LED lighting available to mimic any time of day is often very helpful in fighting jet lag.

Stopovers Are A Good Idea
If at all possible splitting travel time is a good idea. This gives you more time to adjust to different time zones and can also be a savings in airfare. Keep in mind when enjoying the travel break, that the effects of alcohol at high altitudes often increase fatigue, and bring on dehydration making it even more difficult to deal with jet lag.

Avoid Sedatives and Try To Stay Hydrated
Sleeping pills might help you sleep through a boring flight but tend to leave a person groggy upon arrival making it that much harder to deal with jet lag.

  • Drinking plenty of water helps your body function at its best.
  • Many travelers find that simply drinking enough healthy liquids during their flight helps to lighten the load of jet lag. 

In-Flight Exercise
You won’t find a gym on board your flight but most airline magazines do have a section showing simple exercises you can do while flying. Adding stiff, achy muscles to jet lag is no way to begin your time off.

Resetting Body Clocks To Match Destinations
Once you’ve boarded, setting your watch to match destination time helps psychologically but others take it a step further. By rescheduling daily meals to match the time they would be eaten in another time zone, many travelers avoid digestive issues.

If you’ve never flown long-haul before and traveled through many time zones to reach your destination, jet lag can be a real shock to the system. There is no fixed recovery time and different people don’t always experience the same symptoms. Age, general health, and state of mind are all factors. The best weapon most of us have to deal with jet lag is really just using simple common sense.

For more information, visit Careworks.

Author:  Sarah Vidumsky, PA-C