Picture this: You arrive in Italy with a jam-packed itinerary, and yet you can barely make it to the hotel before falling asleep. On your first day of sight seeing you head to the Colosseum. You trudge up the ancient steps in a fog, you can’t focus on anything the tour guide is saying, you’re dizzy and all you can think about is going back to your hotel room and straight to bed. No, you’re not ill, you’re just experiencing jet lag. One of the worst things about traveling internationally by plane is the inevitability of jet lag. Let’s explore what jet lag is, what the symptoms are and, most importantly, what you can do about it before your next trip.
What is Jet Lag?
Jet lag is a temporary sleep disruption caused by traveling through two or more time zones. It’s a common issue for international travelers. It throws your internal clock out of whack and causes you to feel out of sorts. It’s a condition that can put a damper on the first couple days of your trip.
How Long Does Jet Lag Last?
It depends on how many time zones you cross in your travels. In general you can expect 1 to 1.5 days of jet lag for every time zone crossed. This means that depending on where you’re traveling to, jet lag can last anywhere from a day to a couple weeks.
The Most Common Jet Lag Symptoms
The most common symptoms of jet lag include:
- Daytime fatigue
- Sleep disruptions
- Mood changes
- Stomach issues like diarrhea or constipation
- Inability to focus
Less common symptoms can include dizziness, nausea, and mild anxiety. If you are concerned about any of these symptoms you should consult a medical professional. For more information on symptoms of jet lag, you can visit the Mayo Clinic.
Tips for Minimizing Jet Lag
Unfortunately, if you’re flying across multiple time zones, jet lag is inevitable. However, there are some things you can do to minimize the effects it has on you.
- Hydrate. This is key. Drinking plenty of water during your flight will help counteract the effects of the dry cabin air. This will help lessen the impact of symptoms related to jet lag.
- Sleep well the night before. Getting a good night’s sleep before your flight is essential for fighting the effects of jet lag. If you start your flight already sleep-deprived, it will only make your jet lag worse.
- Go light on activity the first couple days. Build some jet lag recovery time into your itinerary. If you can help it, don’t plan on strenuous sight seeing or giving that make-or-break business presentation in the first couple days of your trip. You won’t be at your mental or physical best. Instead, plan some casual activities.
- Exercise. During your flight, get up and move. This doesn’t mean doing burpees in the plane aisle. It simply means stretching your legs regularly and getting your circulation going. Flying internationally can be tough on the body. Exercising your body instead of staying stationary during your flight will help minimize the jet lag.
- Limit light exposure. Exposure to light of any kind, whether led light, blue light or natural sunlight, makes it harder to sleep. On the plane, you’ll want to sleep as well as you can. This means reducing the amount of light in your environment. Many experienced international travelers use eye masks for this reason.
- Time your sleep to your destination. Reducing the effects of jet lag begins with careful planning a few days before take off. Several days before your flight, you’ll want to slowly adjust your sleep schedule to your destination’s time zone. This will minimize the shock of the time change and therefore ultimately lessen the impact of jet lag symptoms.
While international travelers face jet lag, they’ll likely be the first ones to tell you that a little jet lag is a small price to pay for amazing adventures and unforgettable experiences the world has to offer. If you’re planning an international trip, make VisitorsCoverage your first stop.