How Do You Adjust to Jet Lag?

by Mike on December 17, 2009

How do you Adjust to Jet Lag?

You do the best you can. With a 13 time zone change, I don’t think there’s a plan for adjusting quickly, but there are a few things I do that help. I returned yesterday afternoon after 14 days in Asia.  This is my 16th Asian trip in the past 16 months, what follows is what I’ve learned after those 16 round-trip Asian adventures.

  1. Make sure you are hydrated before the flight. Drink plenty of water the day before and avoid dehydration from drinking drinks with alcohol.
  2. Don’t eat meat on the plane. I get the vegetarian special meal. I don’t know why it works, but I don’t get sick when I follow this rule. When I was eating meat on the flights, I would feel much worse and usually have sinus and stomach problems for a few days after.
  3. Don’t drink alcohol on the plane. If you drink after the flight, drink plenty of water before, during and after. Alcohol makes dehydration worse.
  4. Drink plenty of water for a few days after the flight. The relative humidity on the plane is often below 10%. At that level, you are dehydrating. For me, it happens no matter how much water I drink on the plane.
  5. Sleep – get as much as you can. Get as much as you can before, during and after a super long flight. My experience is that you are going to be disrupted in your sleep pattern, so sleep when your body wants it. When I return, I sleep when my body tells me too and I sleep until I wake up. After the first day, I try to get as close to normal sleep pattern as possible, but it takes a week to fully return to normal.
  6. Best Tip – the best tip I can give you for your recovery from a super-long trip is to plan nothing for the day that you arrive on either side of the trip. My flights to Asia come in late night and I make every effort to sleep in the next day. On my return home, it’s usually in the late afternoon. I plan nothing for that arrival day, going straight home from the airport. I go to sleep when my body tells me to and that’s it.

Regardless of what you do, be prepared for at least a few days of jet lag. The human body just doesn’t adjust quickly to the shock of flipping day and night. Be kind to yourself and eat and drinking moderately and get as much rest as you can.

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