Flying long distances is typically a reason to feel great! Well, at least in theory… since in practice, there is a very common issue that afflicts anyone who travels across time zones faster than the sun does. We’re talking of course about the much-dreaded jet lag, a very familiar problem to international business people and leisurely globetrotters alike.
Luckily, there are several techniques for dealing with jet lag, and even some effective medication if you’re unsuccessful with these techniques. If you’re not familiar with these techniques and you’re worried your next long-distance plane flight could get in the way of your enjoyment, read through the following sections for some useful and actionable advice.
Loosen your schedule and rest in anticipation for the flight
One of the most effective ways to avoid long-distance travel fatigue is to plan ahead and get well rested in advance. You can accomplish this by loosening up your schedule slightly in the days before you fly, and if possible, you may even want to take the whole day prior to the flight to get plenty of rest, in anticipation for the long journey ahead. Sleeping in the plane may seem like a bright idea, but it’s often impractical and will leave you feeling much worse than if you spend the flight in a relaxed but alert state, reading a book or doing some light work. Staying awake during the flight will also make it easier for you to actually fall asleep when you land, which is the most naturally effective way to resync your sleep patterns to the new geographical location.
Focus first and foremost on adapting to the timezone you’re visiting
The real issue with long-distance flights is that when you arrive at a very different timezone, your body will instantly be at odds with your mind. You will tend to feel as though you’re still in your original timeline, but your senses will say otherwise. This can be troublesome if you fail to take action and adapt to the new timezone, but fortunately, the opposite is also true. If you focus on adjusting to the new timezone as soon as you arrive, and as long as you put an effort to follow the local bedtime as closely as possible from the first night, then you will find your body and mind readily adjust after a good night’s sleep. Once this happens, the subsequent nights won’t be a problem, so make sure to do whatever it takes to adapt to your new timezone, rather than trying to fight it and further delay the process.
Avoid caffeine and other stimulants while adjusting to a different timezone
Drinking a cup (or three) of local coffee may sound like an obvious approach to reduce your tiredness and help you get in synch with the new timezone you’re visiting. What it will actually help you accomplish, however, is to just further interfere with your sleep patterns in a way that will likely aggravate your discomfort, and delay your adaptation for several gruelling days. You may find it a lot easier to focus first on relaxing, winding down and adapting to the new timezone, and only use stimulants of any kind when you feel your body has already adjusted to the local schedule.
Embrace stopovers as a way to ease into other time zones
Going on a flight that involves multiple stopovers may seem unappealing at first thought… but it’s actually an excellent way to minimize the impact of jet lag, along with an easy way to save some money (multi-city flights tend to be cheaper because most people perceive them as undesirable). The truth of the matter is that stopovers can sometimes be much more comfortable than a long-distance flight, depending on the plane models you’re assigned to and how cramped they happen to be (which is something you can easily research beforehand, these days). Yes, switching planes sounds boring, but remember: it will give you a chance to stretch your legs and move around, and it will also keep you from travelling too far away, too fast – in a way that significantly disrupts your circadian rhythms.