Tips for Coping with Loss of Sleep When Flying Over Time Zones
If you’re planning a trip flying across one or more time zones, you need to know how to manage jet lag so you can get as much rest as possible for your trip.
If you’re planning a trip flying across one or more time zones, you may be overwhelmed with travel details. However, if you don’t plan for or manage the problem of jet lag, you won’t be able to enjoy your trip.
Jet Lag—More Than Just Being Tired
Contrary to what you may believe, jet lag is worse than just losing sleep. When you experience jet lag because you fly over time zones, you can also lose your appetite, experience insomnia or fatigue, as well as become disoriented and irritable. The degree of severity is determined by two basic factors—the number of time zones crossed, as well as your ability to go without sleep.
Tips for Coping with Jet Lag
- Leave early, if possible. This will allow you a day to catch up on your sleep before you begin your trip. That’s what many tourists do when traveling overseas, as they have to cross several time zones, playing even more havoc with their internal body clocks. It may cost you just a little more in motel expenses, but what good is your trip if you’re too tired to enjoy it?
- Vary the amount, as well as timing of your exposure to light. For at least a few days before you depart for your flight (or even for a week) purposely add more light to your day. If you’re flying in the winter, this can be more challenging, of course, as your days of sunlight are fewer. However, try to spend time next to a light box or keep the lights on longer before you go to bed.
- Drink more water on the plane. While you’re in flight be sure to drink plenty of water, as well as other fluids. If you get dehydrated, you’ll only complicate your sleeping difficulty. (Just try to get an aisle seat and not one next to a window, as you’ll need to make frequent trips to the restroom.)
- Pack some healthy treats for the flight. Instead of accepting all the airline snacks, have some backup treats. In other words, don’t accept every snack that’s offered to you, as it may be more difficult for you to sleep on the plane. Also overeating can cause uneasiness as gases expand in the air when you fly, adding to your discomfort and inability to rest on the plane.
- Walk. Besides restroom breaks, purposely get out of your seat (when allowed) and walk. This will help you sleep in your seat later on.
- Sleep on the plane. If you find it difficult to sleep in-flight, use the airline’s complimentary earplugs. What’s more, use a blindfold (if you fly during the day) and be sure to bring an inflatable pillow with you.
- Take a cold shower. As soon as you check into your motel, take a cold shower or even a quick swim in the motel pool.
- Drink coffee. There’s nothing like a cup of caffeine to perk you up. If caffeine agrees with your body, then by all means, have a cup of java when you finally have to wake up from your motel and start your trip, if you still feel sleepy.
Most of all, decide that you won’t let jet lag put a damper on your trip. Although it’s a reality, you can still focus on what you can do to overcome it, realizing that you will soon catch up with your sleep and enjoy your trip.