Avoiding jet lag

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It’s finally here – the trip you’ve been planning for months. Whether you’re heading to Paris for the first time or planning a bike ride through the Netherlands, it’s likely your body will need an adjustment period. Traveling across time zones can be hard – both physically and mentally. Lack of sleep and your body’s adjustment to local time can result in jet lag, a common sleeping disorder suffered by many travelers. The result: time away from your vacation. Instead of hitting the town, you’re stuck in bed. Learn how to combat jet lag with these helpful health tips and learn how to stay healthy during travel so you don’t miss a second of your vacation.

What is jet lag?

According to the National Library of Medicine, jet lag occurs when your body’s biological clock does not correspond with local time. This is common for international travelers and travelers who opt for red-eye flights across the U.S. Jet lag affects millions of people and while it’s not life-threatening, it is inevitable to some degree.

How do I avoid jet lag?

The intensity and duration of jet lag depend on the length of time traveled, the time zones traveled through, and overall health and fatigue of a person’s body. Depending on when and where you’re traveling, there are a few things you can do to avoid jet lag:

  • Choose flights that correspond to local time. For example, if you’re booking a flight from New York to Madrid, look for a Madrid flight arriving early-morning so that your body can adjust to the time zone. If you’re traveling from New York to Los Angeles, find a flight arriving in Los Angeles late-afternoon so you can fall asleep at a reasonable hour and wake up feeling refreshed.
  • The Center for Disease Control suggests limiting the amount of caffeine and alcohol during the flight. Both substances result in dehydration while can make you feel weak and tired. Drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid large meals before your flight. Bring healthy snacks on the plane such as peanuts, raisins and nutritional bars that provide protein and nutrients to the body.

What are the symptoms of jet lag?

Recognizing the signs of jet lag is the first step in combating jet lag. Symptoms vary but in general, you might experience one or more of the following:

  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Headaches, dizziness
  • Sore muscles
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach and indigestion problems

How do I cure jet lag?

There is no one way to cure jet lag, but travelers can rely on a few different methods to help overcome jet lag. In general, experts agree on the following basic rules:

  • Get plenty of sleep before your trip.
  • Eat meals closer to the time you would eat them at your destination.
  • Get some sleep on your flight.
  • Set your watch to your destination’s time before you leave.
  • Drink plenty of water prior to and during your flight.

Once you arrive at your destination, take in as much natural light as possible. If you arrive at night, try to get some rest even if you’re not tired. No matter where your travel plans take you, make the most of your trip by staying active.

(Featured image: leoplus)

Avoiding jet lag was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Melisse Hinkle
Author: Melisse Hinkle (271 posts)

A New England native but explorer at heart, Melisse has traveled throughout North America, biked through rice paddies in Bali, seen the Northern Lights in Iceland, walked alongside llamas in Machu Picchu and made her way around Europe while studying abroad in London. She is the Head of Content and Social Media for North America at Cheapflights.