Sunday, April 11, 2010

How To Prevent Jet Lag

I've never been truly jet lagged.

I'm not boasting, it is a fact. A little tired, yes, but never to the point where my body was physically in one place and thinking it was still in another time zone. Call me lucky, or take my tips which were handed down to me from my best friend's dad, who is a pilot.

For this to work, you *must* stick to it immediately. Don't try to do this the second or third day you arrive. It will already be too late!

From North America to Europe:

1) Sleep, eat and drink (water!) well in the days before you leave for your trip.

2) If possible, take an evening flight. If you haven't eaten supper before take off, eat supper on the plane (I know, it's not always appealing), maybe watch a movie, brush your teeth and get ready for "bed" as if you were at home.

3) Go to "bed" on the plane at a reasonable hour, around 10pm local time.

4) You may need a sleeping pill or melatonin pill to help this along. I highly recommend earplugs, a blanket, an eye mask and if you're lucky, lie down on any empty seats around you. If you are lucky enough to lie down, put your seatbelt on loosely around your waist so the stewards/esses won't bother you. You can even stick a "Do Not Disturb" sign to yourself. Trust me.

5) They always serve breakfast too early, but if you're hungry, eat it. If not, keep sleeping. I've often woken up smelling the end of service and discovered I've missed it (because of the Do Not Disturb sign, no one woke me up, HA!). No worries, you can eat something when you land.

6) When you land, it will be morning at your European destination. Have a healthy light snack (fruit, cheese, bagel) and don't forget to stay hydrated. I'll usually have some toast, fruit and a tea (especially if I've just landed in England. Gotta have my first decent cuppa!) and get right to bed.

7) Yes, that's right. Get to a bed and sleep! If you can't sleep, just close your eyes and relax for a few hours.

8) If you're like me, you'll wake up at around lunch time. I'll shower and have lunch and be totally fine for the rest of the trip. Seriously.

9) Go to bed that night at a reasonable hour again and you should wake up in the morning at the correct time for your location.

I'll admit, there could be some glitches with you waking up at 1am local time and confused, but STAY IN BED! Even if you don't sleep, relaxing in bed will help your body recharge and get the point that it needs to sleep now, at this new time. If you stick to this the first night, I promise there will be no more headaches the rest of your trip. Promise!

As you continue east, you'll have to repeat this procedure each time you go over a significant number of time zones. Stick to it! Don't give in to the temptation to run off immediately and see sights. Train your body first so that you can enjoy the rest of your time at your destination.

On the way back, from Europe to North America, it's pretty much the same thing, but I start "living" in the new time on the way back ie. if it's sleeping time in North America, I sleep on the plane. If it's awake time in North America, I stay awake.

-Once landed, eat or sleep based on the local schedule.
-This may mean you have to fight to stay awake until it's a reasonable bed time. If that's the case, go out and get fresh air, walk around. Do not head to bed too early!
-If you go to bed at a reasonable hour, you should get up just fine and rested the next morning.
Admittedly, I often get up a little earlier than I normally would that first morning back, but after that glitch, I'm totally back into my regular routine.

So essentially it's sleep more heading east and stay awake more heading west.

I hope this works for you, too! (Actually, I'm pretty confident it will :)
But if not, comment with your tips/criticisms.


Jen Laceda | Milk Guides said...

good tips! that's easy to remember. sleep more heading east and stay awake more heading west!

Tara Tiger Brown said...

My husband and some friends use fasting to prevent jetlag. I haven't tried it yet because I'm breastfeeding and I don't think it's a good idea, but it has definitely worked for him.

His post is here:

Stopped eating 16 hours before my flight
• Changed my clock to Singapore time and ate when it would be breakfast time. (in practice this worked out to be about 18 hours with no food)
• Ate again when it would be lunch & dinner in Singapore regardless of when food was served to me.
• Forced sleep with melatonin around 11PM Singapore time (even though I was in Tokyo at this point).

p.s. I'll be in Montreal in September for a friend's wedding. I love that city!