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10 Steps to help you cope with jet lag

Jet lag affects millions of travelers across the globe. Failure to take steps to combat the excessive sleepiness and other common jet lag symptoms can leave you feeling drained and unable to enjoy your dream vacation or perform well during an overseas business meeting.  Fortunately, there are some simple measures you can take before, during, and after your travels to help your body adjust to a change in time zone. Below are ten tips to help you cope with jet lag.

1) Book your flights with care

Travelers can often minimize jet lag simply by selecting a flight schedule that can help them easily adjust to their destination time zone. Here are some suggestions to help you can follow to help you get some rest on your flight, especially if you are traveling at night when your body requires rest:

  • Select a window seat to help minimize distractions if you need to sleep on the plane
  • If you need to stay awake, choose an aisle seat that allows you to stretch your legs
  • When traveling a long distance, try to book a flight with an evening arrival to facilitate sleep

 

2) Use a chauffeured car service for travel to and from the airport

Sometimes the journey to and from the airport can be the most stressful part of your travels. A professional chauffeur service can help your mind and body relax by creating a smooth transition to and from the airport. Before you book your reservation, make sure that you carefully evaluate the car service to ensure that they are licensed and registered with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

3) Set your watch to the time of your destination city

Adjusting to a new time zone or readjusting to your home time zone is best accomplished if you start viewing the time of day from the lens of your destination time zone. One of the best ways to do this is to reset your watch to the time of your destination city as soon as you arrive at the airport for your departing flight.

man laying on hotel bed with suitcase next to him

man with jet lag

4) Limit your use of caffeine and alcohol

Some travelers try to increase their intake of caffeine to stay awake or have a few drinks to induce drowsiness. While this may seem like a good idea at first, there are several pitfalls with this strategy. First, caffeine and alcohol can spur bladder activity and interfere with your efforts to catch some shuteye on the plane. Caffeine and alcohol can also trigger headaches and stomach distress, which can exacerbate your jet lag symptoms.

5)Resist the urge to sleep as soon as you arrive 

One of the greatest challenges travelers face when traveling long distances is resisting the urge to go to sleep as soon as they arrive. Going to bed as soon as you arrive is only recommended if you arrive at night around the time you plan to go to bed while at your destination. Otherwise, you should craft a plan to help ensure that you remain awake when you arrive in broad daylight.

6) Try to recreate your home sleep environment while overseas 

The quality of your sleep is just as important as the number of hours you dedicate to sleeping. One of the best ways to bolster your sleep quality is to do your best to recreate your home sleep environment while you are traveling. Here are a few ways to mirror your home sleep environment:

  • Adjust the thermostat in your hotel room to match your bedroom temperature at home
  • Pack one of your favorite pillowcases to enhance your comfort
  • Bring ear plugs or a portable sound machine to help minimize any unfamiliar noises

 

7) Do not overuse sleep aids

If you find yourself wide awake at 3:00 a.m. after returning home from a trip to London, you may be tempted to turn to sleeping pills to help your body get back on track. And while a small dose of melatonin or a mild over-the-counter sleep aid might help your body resume its normal sleep schedule, depending too much on sleep aids can actually leave you feeling groggier than ever.

8) Never try to drive home from the airport if you feel drowsy

“The extreme danger posed by tired drivers has prompted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to expand its definition of impaired driving to include not only drunk, drugged and distracted, but also drowsy. In a newly available NHTSA estimate provided to GHSA for this report, the agency reveals the annual societal cost of fatigue-related fatal and injury crashes is a staggering $109 billion, not including property damage.”

Governors Highway Safety Association

Every year, up to 20% of traffic fatalities are caused by drowsy drivers. Driving while sleep-deprived puts you, other drivers, and pedestrians at an increased risk for injury. If you are suffering the effects of jet lag, consider using the same professional chauffeur you called to take you to the airport. A trusted chauffeur offers a host of advantages to leg-weary travelers and can help you enjoy a smooth transition home.

9) Avoid strenuous or challenging activities after you arrive

In addition to being physically exhausted, people suffering from jet lag are more prone to concentration difficulties. Resist the urge to book an important customer meeting or a full day of hiking right after you arrive at your destination. By giving your body a chance to rest, your performance will be less apt to suffer.

10) Take extra precautions if you are at increased risk for jet lag

“People who are already suffering from sleep deprivation or insomnia have been shown to be more likely to experience jet lag, and at a higher degree of intensity…All age groups are at risk of experiencing jet lag, however, individuals over the age of 50 are more likely to develop jet lag and have worse symptoms than those under the age of 30. This is because it takes longer for their bodies to recover and adjust than it does young adults.”

–  National Association of Managed Care Physicians (NAMCP)

Researchers have discovered that people over the age of 50 and those who are already sleep deprived are at a greater risk for jet lag. While you cannot shave years off your age, you can help minimize the symptoms of jet lag by making sure that you sleep for 7-8 hours during the evenings prior to your trip.

The Bottom Line

Jet lag is an unpleasant consequence of long-distance travel for many people. Whether you are traveling overseas for your dream vacation or returning home after a grueling business trip, you could be at risk for jet lag. By following the ten tips above, you can help combat jet lag or even prevent it from occurring all together.

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