Sitting on a bench at the beautiful Epcot Center in Disneyworld in Florida on my first day in the United States, all I could was fight sleep, while I so wanted to rush around and explore the World Showcase! Going to bed at nine that night and waking up fresh the next morning helped me get the most of the brief holiday with family where we had four days to take in the rest of the Disneyworld. Jetlag is one of the less desired downsides of travel which affects the circadian rhythms of our bodies, throwing out of gear our sleep patterns, in the process affecting our digestion and other basic bodily functions!
Don’t let jetlag ruin your holiday. Rather than dealing with jetlag at the destination, it is advisable to plan well ahead with the following tips:
- When travelling westwards it is better to start delaying your bedtime and waking up later in the mornings.
- While eastward bound, start going to bed an hour earlier and awaken an hour earlier as well. Start this routine a week in advance.
- Plan your flights so that you have a day or two to get over jetlag in preparation for a big meeting, wedding or a conference.
- Follow your exercise routine and ensure that you are well rested prior to travel.
- Stay hydrated. Avoid caffeine and alcohol on flights.
- Eat small meals. Carry some fruit/oatmeal bars to keep hunger pangs at bay in case of long flights.
- Move around instead of sitting in your seat for long intervals.
- Try and adapt to the time zone of your destination by sleeping at appropriate times using the help of eye masks, ear plugs and headphones to help you sleep.
Dealing with jetlag at the destination
- Resist the urge to hit the sack before the sun goes down.
- Expose yourself to light during the daylight hours.
- Resist the urge to take an afternoon nap.
- Eat meals at appropriate times and avoid snacking.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Keep active and follow your normal exercise routine.
- In severe cases of jetlag, frequent flyers resort to taking a small dose of melatonin – around 0.5mg about 30 minutes before bedtime. Melatonin is a hormone which helps regulate circadian rhythms by sending a signal to the brain that it is night. It is a well-known remedy to deal with jetlag.