Many people love travelling but hate the effects. The worst effects often occur when we have to spend a day or two 'recuperating' from jetlag. The effects are most pronounced when we travel across multiple time zones. The effects are characterised by extreme fatigue, insomnia, confusion, dehydration, headache, irritability, mild depression and constipation or diarrhoea. At times those affected may end up having to go to the doctor or taking medication. However, jet lag's effects can be avoided - naturally, before, during and after a long flight.
To minimise jet lag before the flight
o Eat plenty but lighter foods, and hydrate yourself well, so you are feeling at your best when you board the plane.
o If you are able to, get as much exercise as possible in the few days before your trip. This will expend some of that excess energy and help you relax you on 'the day' of travel.
o Wear comfortable clothes. You do not want to be in tight clothes and heels all day and all night. This is the most arduous. Besides, hours in a plane will bloat your feet and trying to walk in heels after this is a recipe for disaster.
o Stay away from alcohol, for at least 24 hours beforehand.
o Get plenty of sleep before your flight. Experts agree that sleep deprivation makes jet lag more likely to occur.
Once on the plane
o Set your watch to your destination's time as soon as you get on the flight. It will be easier to adjust to your new time zone when you land. Remember, it all begins in the mind.
o Rest. Avoid watching movies all night during your flight, rest if you can. You will be less tired when you get to your destination.
o Try some in-flight exercises during the flight, for example the shoulder stretch, ankle stretch and foot pumps. This will loosen stiff joints. Try to take short walks around the cabin every hour or so.
o Go easy on snacks (especially salty) and beverages (especially sweet). If you are going to remain seated for almost a day, it would be wise to eat in moderation.
o When you are thirsty, drink water as opposed to caffeinated drinks.
o Try to get accustomed to your new time zone straight away. Even if you are incredibly tired when you land, try to avoid having a nap. Try to stay awake until about 10pm or 11pm local time and then sleep for the same amount as you would at home.
o Drink as much water as you possibly can - the altitude of flying affects your body so staying well-hydrated will not only help you stay awake, it will help you prevent a headache.
o Expose yourself to sunlight at your new destination. The rhythm of sunlight is broken when you cross multiple time zones, and jet lag actually occurs when your body thinks it's night when it's day. Exposing yourself to the sun can help you adjust to the new time zone quicker.
o Exercise. Doing exercises on a sunny day in your new time zone will help adjust your body clock.
Despite all of these helpful hints, at times it may be difficult to prevent jet lag. If you anticipate jet lag, arrive as early as possible to your destination so your body has more time to adjust to its new surroundings and time zone, before your vacation or business activitiy begins.