As you board the plane heading west to New York or east to Hong Kong, you might be practically thinking about your carry-on bags, emotionally thinking about the goals of your trip, or spiritually thinking of the open skies ahead of you. All that thinking, however, will be too hard to handle when you reach your destination. The jet lag will kick in, and the only thing you will be able to think about is how hard it isto concentrate on anything.
Jet lag is actually a condition of the brain rather than one of physical exhaustion. Scientific evidence proves that a cluster of brain cells control what is known as your biological clock. This clock controls the timing of biological functions such as eating and sleeping. Interestingly, your biological clock is designed for a regular rhythm of daylight and nighttime, which means that when you change your location–and your time zone with it–your clock is thrown out of sync. Mixed messages arrive to these brain cells and the body doesn't understand entirely when to do what. It sometimes takes days for your biological clock to adjust to the new time zone.
This stream of information, however, doesn't help you overcome the annoying condition, does it?!
Following some easy steps can help you avoid prolonging the condition, but you should know that there is no way let lag can be avoided entirely. To the best of our knowledge, these steps will help you become fully adapted to the new time zone within one or two days instead of a full week:
The first question you should ask yourself is: How many time zones will I cross on my trip?
Check online for the time difference between your country of departure and that of arrival, you can click here to check the current time in cities worldwide.
Notice that a a long journey does not necessarily mean a time zone difference. Flying from South Africa to Europe, for instance, although a long flight, will not give you jet lag because your departure and destination are located in around the same time zones.
In anticipation of the condition, you can then start changing your sleeping patterns slowly. Going to sleep an hour earlier–or later–every night for two or three weeks before your trip can help adjust your biological clock to a new set of orders, which helps to reduce the effect of jet lag.
Drinking fluids is a great method to help cope with a long flight and its impact on your body once you disembark. The dry air in the aircraft causes dehydration, so drink plenty of fluids to hydrate your body. Water, of course, is better than coffee, tea, or fruit juice in helping to hydrate, but be careful: Alcohol has a markedly greater intoxicating effect when drunk on an airplane than it does at ground level.
Use as many sleeping aids as possible: blindfolds, ear plugs, blow-up pillows and neckrests are useful in helping you get some quality sleep while flying. Take off your shoes to reduce pressure on your feet. Some airlines offer passengers soft sock-like slippers, but you may prefer to bring your own. Note that sleeping pills are a very dangerous way to ensure you get the rest you need. The medications induce a coma-like state with little body movement, which can cause an extreme condition known as deep vein thrombosis, with fatal blood clots that can travel to the lungs and cause heart attacks.
Walking up and down the plane aisle helps keep muscles relaxed and your body in the right shape. Doing some minor stretching exercises in the plane helps keep your body balanced while facing the many hard effects of traveling for long hours–it also helps to reduce the possibility of blood clots.
Finally, showers help a lot in relaxing–or stimulating–your body. If you arrive at your destination at night, a hot shower will help relax your muscles and put you in a sleepy state of mind, while a cold shower will wake you up and help you be productive if you arrive at your destination during the day.