Kampala, Uganda | by Michael Wandati | Jet lag is a physical condition which the body’s inner clock is not in sync with the time zone it is currently in.
You may suffer from some of the symptoms such as headache, fatigue, dehydration and having hard time to sleep. Unlike other sleeping disorders, it is not caused by abnormal sleep patterns.
Depending on how many time zones you cross, it may take several days to get your internal clock (circadian rhythm) back on schedule. So, it will be nice if we can minimize these sufferings or prevent jet lag from happening.
Here are some tips you may want to consider:
Before departing, make sure you have got all your business or personal matters in order.
Get a good rest a day before. Exercise will make you sleep better. If you have a cold, if possible, delay the trip because flying will probably make it worse.
Once you are in the plane, reset your watch to the time zone you will be traveling to, so you can mentally prepare your body for the new time.
The air in the plane cabin is normally dry which will make you feel sleepy. Air cabins tend to rely on recycled air via air conditioning units.
This inevitably dries both the skin and can lead to dry nasal and throat membranes. So, drink water throughout the flight. Water is better than coffee, tea and fruit juices.
Avoid drinking alcohol right before and during your flight. Alcohol not only is useless in combating dehydration, but has a markedly greater intoxicating effect when drunk in the rarefied atmosphere of an airplane than it does at ground level. These drinks will dehydrate you and mess with your sleep schedules even more.
Walk around and do seated exercises to improve blood circulation, which will hopefully prevent stiffness and swelling, especially legs and feet. Get off the plane if possible at stopovers, and do some exercises or take a walk.
If you are taking a red-eye (night flight), make the cabin as dark as you can so you can try to sleep. Wear eye shades and earplugs.
Neck rests and blow-up pillows are helpful too. Take off your shoes to ease pressure on the feet. Some airlines provide soft sock-like slippers.
When you arrive in the morning, try to stay awake, and go to sleep at that time zone’s normal bedtime. It will be tough, but you will get a better night of sleep. If you arrive at night, you will need to try and get some immediate sleep to be ready to start the following day in line with local time.
If possible, take daytime flight because it causes less jet lag compared with night flight.
Hopefully, by planning ahead your flight departure and know what to do, you will be able to curb jet lag. However, if you only plan to stay in a distant country for a short amount of time (few days), then there is nothing much you can do about jet lag. It is unlikely that you will be able to adjust in that time.