Dealing With Jet Lag

Jet lag. If you are a frequent traveller you’ve probably had it at some point.

For those of us who travel internationally on a regular basis jet lag is a constant problem.

Essentially “jet lag” occurs when you travel across multiple timezones. So if you are based in London and you travel to Los Angeles the flight(s) might take 12 to 14 hours, but when you get to your destination you’re dealing with an 8 hour time difference. Midday in Los Angeles is 8pm in London. So your body gets confused. You’ll often find yourself wanting to sleep at times that simply don’t make any sense..

So what can you do?

If the timezone difference is only one or two hours then you won’t have any real problems. Travelling from London to Paris, for example, is only 1 hour of time difference.

But when you start dealing with 4+ hours of time difference it will start to impact you.

There is a LOT written about dealing with jet lag.

I’ve no idea how accurate some of it is, but a few things seem to be true:

  • It takes roughly 24 hours to adjust to one hour time difference
  • Eating junk food and drinking lots of alcohol makes it worse
  • Drinking plenty of fluids while travelling and minimising alcohol can help (I said “minimise” not cut it out entirely!)
  • Jet lag is all about your body’s rhythms and cycles, so try to be up during daylight hours and asleep only during night ie. darkness

Personally I’ve found that “pushing through” at my destination can help ie. no matter how tired and confused you might feel try to stay up at the destination until an hour close to your normal bed time.

There are a lot of supplements and drugs available on the market that can help “fix” jet lag and other sleep issues, though I’d be wary of using any of them too often. You really don’t want to replace your jet lag with a drug addiction!

Having said that, melatonin and melatonin based products seem to work pretty well. Melatonin can be bought over the counter in most US supermarkets and a lot of convenience stores. In Europe you might need to go to a pharmacy to get some and whether it is available without prescription may vary.

NB: If you suffer from really bad jet lag problems then speak to a medical professional.

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