Avoiding Jet Lag


Feel Like You’re In First Class When You’re Stuck in Coach...

David Rentsch

President, Cruise Holidays

Catch Some Sleep

Some people swear by the supplement melatonin, a hormone involved in regulating sleep cycles. Others have found it to have the opposite effect - sleeplessness or insomnia. For this reason, if you’re curious, test this supplement at home BEFORE traveling.

Likewise, if you’ve never used sleeping pills, a plane is not the place on which to give them a try. In fact, many physicians discourage sleeping pills altogether as the deep sleep and resulting inactivity can contribute to blood clot formation, a much more serious problem than sleep deprivation. You also need to consider the pill’s duration versus the length of your flight. You don’t want to deal with customs, car rentals and room check-in when you’re half asleep.

Most travelers try to make the most of their limited time overseas, yet fail to take into account the leap in time zones they make in a matter of hours. It can take your body's internal clock several days to catch up to that leap, and in the meantime you’re likely to experience the disruption of your sleeping and waking cycle known as jet lag. Symptoms of jet lag include sleepiness during the day, insomnia at night, poor concentration, confusion, hunger at inappropriate times or lack of appetite, and general malaise and irritability. Here are our top tips to fight jet lag.

Bottle of Water
Keeping hydrated is THE most important part of avoiding jet lag. The humidity in the aircraft hovers around 15%. Compare that with the humidity in one of the world’s driest place, the Atacama Desert, where it hovers around 16%.

Rule of thumb: Drinking 8 oz. every hour only replaces the cup of water you’re losing from your skin surface.

While first class passengers get drinks the second they sit down, in coach you start to become dehydrated by the time the plane taxis to the runway. Purchase a water bottle once you have passed through security. Then drink all 8 oz and refill it before boarding. An added benefit - all that water in your system will force you out of your seat and down the aisle.

An eye mask and a set of ear plugs are very helpful. The latter has the added benefit of thwarting tinnitus, the ear ringing that many of us experience following hours of roaring engine sounds. Keep in mind that resting with your eyes closed is 70% to 80% as effective as real sleep. Even a short snooze will make a big difference in your recovery time.

Eat Carefully

Pressurized cabins can have odd effects on your gastro intestinal system. Avoid gas producing foods preflight, such as apples, apricots, beans, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower - even milk if you’re lactose intolerant. And pack high fiber snacks in your carry-on, such as dried fruit, nuts and whole grain granola bars. Dehydration and lack of activity can also often result in post-flight constipation, even among those who never experience it at home. If you often have irregularity, bring your favorite remedy - it may not be available in foreign pharmacies.

If you plan ahead and follow a pre-flight diet that alternates high-protein meals with high-carb meals, you may significantly reduce jet lag.

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Keep Moving

Blood clots (in doctor speak "DVT" or Deep Vein Thrombosis) are a serious health threat on long flights. Force yourself to get up and move around the cabin on a regular basis. Flex your legs and rotate your ankles while you’re seated. Do knee bends while waiting in line for the lavatory. Spend layovers walking through the airport.