You’re Getting Verrry Sleeepy…Combating Jet Lag On Your Next Long-Distance Trip
Jet lag is a drag. "Plane drain" can make those first few
days at a new destination or back home seem like you really do need a
To travel to some of the world’s top destinations, you typically have
to catch a plane. The only glitch in this globe-trotting fantasy is the
toll air travel can exact on the body in the form of jet lag.
The root cause of jet lag is the disruption of the body’s circadian
physiologic rhythm, which is the internal 24-hour cycle that regulates a
person’s normal waking and sleeping periods. Specific symptoms include:
insomnia, daytime sleepiness, fatigue, poor concentration, slowed
reflexes, indigestion, hunger at odd hours, irritability, depression, lack
of resistance to infections, muscle aches, mood disturbances, loss of
mental efficiency, and headaches.
The following ten tips (courtesy of The Aviation Health Institute) may
keep jet lag on the runway:
- Nap: A single 70 to 120-minute nap taken prior to the flight can
reduce the decline in alertness over the subsequent 24-hour period.
After you arrive, try to take a short nap after lunchtime.
- Stay Up To Midnight: For the first two or three days at your
destination, try to stay up to midnight to merge with the body’s
natural free-running rhythms.
- Get Outdoors: Sunlight is an excellent way to reset your internal
body clock to coincide with local
- Pack Lightbulbs: Exposure to bright artificial light can also
influence the bodyclock. Two glare-free 150-watt light bulbs placed
three feet away can help.
- Go Local: Set your watch according to the local time when you board
the plane and act accordingly—eat
and sleep on the schedule of your destination.
- Drink Water/Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol: Because airplane cabins have
low humidity and a majority of recycled air, dehydration is prevalent
among airplane travelers.
- Change Your Diet: Concentrate on protein for breakfast and lunch and
save the serotonin-loaded
carbohydrates for evening to induce relaxation.
- Pack A Healthy Snack: Ditch the peanuts and soda.
- Exercise: Sitting for hours immobile in pre-flight is a bad
strategy. It’s not too late to
even exercise at the gate. Regular exercise before and after a flight
will make the adjustment easier.
- Take Two Aspirin: Once at your destination,
take two aspirin (unless allergic, of course) before going to bed.
The use of melatonin as a natural sleeping aid continues to fascinate
vacationers. People who take melatonin often have to experiment to find
the dose that’s "right" for them. For more information,
cybertravelers can check out the website called ‘Melatonin Central’ (www.melatonin.com).
Of course, many other jet lag ‘solutions’ exist. Some of the
possibilities include: specific diets; pressure point treatments;
chiropractic manipulation; sleeping aids (e.g., blindfolds, ear plugs,
neckrests, and blow-up pillows); sleeping pills; and specific products