How to Prevent Jet Lag

We should have started planning this quite a while ago.  I’ve never had jet lag before… but then again, I’ve never traveled father than Hawaii.  Our Mediterranean destinations are 7-8 hours ahead of us, which means:

  • 7 am in Italy, when we’d like to start exploring, is midnight on our biological clocks.
  • If we eat lunch at noon in Greece, it would be like eating a 4 am breakfast back at home.
  • Watching the sunset in Dubrovnik (about 8:15 pm) will feel like 1:15 pm to our Wisconsin brains.
  • Going to bed on the cruise ship at our usual time, 10 or 11 pm, would be like falling asleep at 3 in the afternoon.

According to many websites (and simple logic), it would have been a good idea to start adjusting our bodies to the upcoming time change about a week ago.  Whoops.  That did not happen.  We’ll have to make to with some other tips and tricks from the web.  Here are a few I’ve gathered.

  • Sleep on the plane when it is nighttime at your destination. Earplugs, headphones and eye masks can help diminish noise and light.  Stay awake on the plane when it is daytime at your destination. Read a thriller with the light on and the window shade open, or cruise the aisles.  (eHow)
  • Before departing, make sure you have all your affairs, business and personal, in order. Ensure you are not stressed-out with excitement or worry, and not tired or hungover from a function the night before.  (nojetlag.com)
  • Some travelers like to exercise before they go to the airport. (This can actually help you sleep better on the plane.)  Once you’re at the airport, avoid the escalators and moving sidewalks.  Instead, walk and take the stairs on the way to your check-in area and gate connections.  (Independent Traveler)
  • When I traveled from the U.S. to Israel a couple years ago, a trip that involved an eight-hour time difference, I resisted the temptation to take a nap when I arrived (11 AM local time, 3 AM body time). Instead I stayed up till 9 PM local time and got a good night’s sleep. Instant reset of my body clock.  (The Straight Dope)
  • If you have a stopover in between your flights on a long journey, you might want to take a shower to wake up your body, get the circulation flowing and freshen up. Usually, I just wash my face, hair and brush my teeth rather than taking a full body shower.  (Brave New Traveler)
  • The dry air in aircraft causes dehydration. Drinking plenty of non-alcoholic fluids counters this. Water is better than coffee, tea and fruit juices. Alcohol not only is useless in combating dehydration, but has a markedly greater intoxicating effect when drunk in the rarefied atmosphere of an airliner than it does at ground level.  (nojetlag.com)
  • Wearing two watches, one set to the current time, and one to the time at your destination, can help you prepare yourself mentally for the coming time change.  (Independent Traveler)
  • Most important when you’re in the air is to keep exercised. Sitting for the whole period is not good for your circulation so get up as often as possible (but not excessively). Here are some simple exercises you can do.
    1. Shoulder shrugs – lift your arms and roll them in a wide circular movement both forward and backwards.
    2. Knee raises – bend your knees to hip height, hold for a few seconds, release and do the same for the other knee.
    3. Upper back stretch – lock your fingers, stretch them out front bowing your back with palms facing inwards.
    4. Ankle swirl – move your ankles around in small circles from time to time.  (Brave New Traveler)

Any more tips to add?

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