Thursday, August 20, 2009

Getting Over Jet Lag

As I write this entry, my eyes are slowly starting to close… Jet lag. It happens even to the most seasoned of travelers. No matter how many times you cross the pond (or the Pacific), jumping between multiple timezones can mess with your internal clock and wreak havoc on your body’s sleep patterns. This is where the homegrown remedies come in. It seems like everyone has a solution for beating jet lag. The “cures” vary widely in their approaches, and travelers love to share their best strategies for getting on local time. With dead tiredness setting in at unusual hours, I’m all ears.

But what option do you trust? A colleague of mine suggested drinking orange juice as a way to banish the body’s timezone confusion. Before heading off to Brussels, I came across a magazine article that cited a study by the Harvard Medical School that suggests fasting before and during your flight will keep jet lag at bay. My Frommer’s guide tries to debunk the classic hit-the-ground-running theory by claiming a quick nap upon arrival is truly the way to go. None of that worked for you? Then try popping a few No-Jet-Lag pills. Yup, they have those.

In the end, waiting it out might be the only true recourse for the weary traveler. I’ve heard many people say it takes them at least a week to get back on a normal sleep schedule, and I’m predicting the same will be true for me in Belgium, no matter how much advice to the contrary I receive. Of course, my own thought on jet lag has always been that it’s easier to go from the U.S. to Europe than it is from Europe to the U.S., this trip notwithstanding. Something about that never-ending day on the westward journey that seems to be especially disruptive. Everyone has their own way of tackling (or accepting) jet lag. What’s yours?


Andi said...

I make sure I sleep on the plane by taking a sleeping pill.

Anil said...

I've read that your body clock is in large part regulated by your liver so I try to eat at the 'destination' times a day or two before a long flight.

Not sure how much it helps and I usually cheat and just eat all the time when flying.

Greg Wesson said...

I always force myself to either stay up or sleep on the plane to adjust to the new time. I find going eastward worse than heading west. For me, heading west is just staying up longer, whereas heading east means that morning comes way too early.

Nomadic Matt said...

I take sleeping pills on the planes to keep myself on a somewhat normal day/night schedule.

Zhu said...

I find it easier going to Europe (from N. America) than coming back.

Last time I was in France for 3 weeks, we didn't really adjust and kept on sleeping at 3am :D

Tanya said...

A lot of you are using sleeping pills, I should give that method another try. They usually just make me groggy upon arrival.

Abfab Art Studio said...

I've never taken sleeping pills so can't comment on that, but my sure-fire tricks have worked for almost 30 yrs of travel ... for me.

1. Whatever time I land, I have to be part of the timezone. Arriving in Paris early? If possible, have a quick shower. If you know in advance you can't check in early, shower at the airport before leaving.

Drop off bags, go sit in a café and get into the 'zone' or go somewhere to keep your eyes busy (away from your bed). Arriving late in L.A.? Go out for a drink or meet friends etc.

2. If you absolutely cannot stand up or stay awake during the day, have a ONE HOUR NAP - but NO LONGER THAN ONE HOUR.

I find if I nap for over an hour during the first day, I just can't get into the swing of things.

3. Do everything in your power to stay awake until 8pm, and only then can you go to bed. If possible, push through for as long as you can, or have a shower to freshen up and try to hang in till around 10pm.

I've found this has worked for me time and time again - I am only ever a 'bit tired' for the first 2 or 3 days then I'm right into the swing of things.

4. Haven't heard of these for a few years, but I had friends who said floatation tanks were their answer - get into one as soon as you land at your destination - they reset your internal clock immediatly.

PS - I don't have any hard and fast rules about being on the plane - eat when hungry, sleep when tired usually gets me through :-)


Tanya said...

@Teena, Great tips, thanks for sharing! I try to stay awake at all costs as well. At least until a reasonable bedtime presents itself.