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7 tips to control your jet lag!

Photo of airplane above the city - Credits: shansekala (ThinkStock)
It is without a doubt the worst thing that can happen to you when it comes to travelling: jet lag! Returning home after a great holiday to find that you’re exasperated during the day and wide awake in the middle of the night. However, it is possible to control your jet lag. If you want to know how, keep on reading.

Time difference
Jet lag arises when you travel to a place where the local time is notably later or notably earlier compared to the time at your original location and when your travel takes place in a short span of time. Think of destinations such as Mexico, China and the United States. Your body gets, dependent on how much of a time difference there is, a shock which expresses itself in impaired concentration, in dehydration, in having less energy, in an appetite disorder and above all in a sleep disorder. In extreme cases jet lag can result in aggressive behaviour and in memory loss.

East and West
Our body is used to indicating at set times when it is time for us to eat and to sleep. However, time differences mean that our bodies, our biological clocks to be precise, get confused. Experience has shown that people are especially susceptible to the effects of jet lag whilst travelling east which can be explained by the fact that you’re travelling against the clock so that your day seems shorter. This is in contrast to travelling west. Unfortunately, there is no medication against the effects of jet lag but the following seven tips could be of some help you.
Photo of airplane chairs- Credits: lillophoto (ThinkStock)

Tip 1
Make sure that you adjust your sleeping rhythm a few days before you depart. Travelling east? It will be to your advantage to go to bed earlier and to get up earlier. When travelling west it is the other way around. It is important not to sleep longer or shorter so that you can adjust your sleeping rhythm. You could, for example, adjust your sleeping rhythm by half an hour every day.

Tip 2
Avoid heavy meals. Try to eat a light meal before and during your flight. This way your body can adapt more easily to the new circumstances. Make sure you eat enough and that you eat healthy but avoid eating too much.

Tip 3
Besides a balanced diet, drinking enough is just as important. Make sure to drink a lot of water, more than you’d normally drink and to avoid alcohol and caffeine. The latter two cause dehydration which in turn will affect the adaptation process. If you really want to get a head start then make sure to avoid alcohol and caffeine altogether before your flight.

This might be more mental support than physical support but set your watch/smartphone to the time zone of the place where you’ll be staying. This will be particularly helpful if you already want to get used to the other time zone. It is advisable however not to change the time zone on your watch/smartphone until after you have boarded the aircraft. You don’t want to miss your flight due to the fact that you had set your watch a few days in advance!

Stretching. Try to go for a little walk at least once every two hours during the flight. In any case it’s a good way to avoid deep vein thrombosis. 
Keep fit and relaxed and stimulate your blood circulation so your body has less trouble adjusting again later on. Regular visits to the toilet can help, even if you don’t really have to go.

Arrived at your destination? Take it easy. Allow your body time to adjust which can often take one or two days. So don’t put together a busy programme filled with lots of activities the first two days.

It’s not always up to you but try to plan your arrival late in the afternoon or early in the evening. This way you can get to bed soon after arriving which means you’ll be able to get a good night’s sleep. If you do so, it’s important to try to stay awake during the flight.

Do you have more tips to prevent jet lag? Don’t hesitate to share them with us!

Text: Patrick Stevens
Translation: Rodger Poppeliers
Picture: Iryna_Rasko, shansekala & lillophoto (ThinkStock)

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