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Escape Hunter Planning Jet Lag Coping Techniques

Jet Lag Coping Techniques

December 6, 2013
October 12, 2014

Whenever flying faraway, crossing multiple time zones, you get affected by jet lag. Completely eliminating it is almost impossible, but you can always minimize its effects!

Frequent flyers who travel far are more at risk, exposing their organism to the time zone shocks more often. And jet lag can have terrible health-related consequences, also ruining your trip.

I've been hit by jet lag several times and luckily I learned developed several techniques to help cope with this condition. So, I dedicated this article to these coping mechanisms.

It can take many days, even weeks to adjust to the new time zone and strengthen your organism, but effective techniques can help you fight back on jet lag and adjust faster.

Coping with jet lag

Source: © iStock.com/AvailableLight

Signs and Consequences of Jet Lag

The most obvious signs of jet lag: extreme exhaustion (even during the day), sleeplessness during the night, headache, eye-pain, lack of appetite during daytime and increased appetite during the night, stomach and digestive problems, sensitivity to light and noise.

Essentially, jet lag has a short-circuiting effect both psychologically and physically. Your biorhythm can't adjust to the outside reality.

You can't sleep during the night. Instead, you're starving, badly need a bite!
During the day you're dead tired, as if someone would have thrown a heavy sandbag on your head.

Your organism goes haywire. No-one is entirely immune to this condition.
It can last for days or weeks, depending on the distance you've traveled at and the length of your stay.
But, most importantly: how you're trying to cope with it will influence the outcome even more!

Techniques for Coping With Jet Lag

These tips are about fighting jet lag when it has already hit.
These are not prevention techniques, but my newer article on how to prevent jet lag can help with that as well. After all, adequate coping is a combination of prevention and coping on location.

Here are the techniques that will help prevent, fight- and even eliminate jet lag... I use them, to a large extent they work, but hey - I'm not Merlin, so I can't promise it'll totally eliminate jet lag.

#1 Upon arrival, don't sleep according to your home time zone

It's best to remain active, but that doesn't mean to set off on exhausting long walking trips. Spare yourself from wasting energy, but don't sleep.
You will have to force yourself (naturally) to adjust to the new time zone. This is the hardest thing
If you let yourself fall asleep, during daytime, it will be a deep sleep lasting for almost all of the day.

Bottom line is: don't sleep according to your time zone back home. Re-adjust according to the new one.

#2 Go to parks, places with high oxygen concentration

Chill out in parks. Take long rests in places full of oxygen.
It's needless to emphasize the importance of this. But we almost never do it. I myself included, have discovered the tremendous benefit of green areas later. They give me a lot of energy, refreshing psychologically and physically.

#3 Don't drink alcohol at all on your first days

Alcohol will make you feel more tired and will amplify the bad sensations, it will get you tired and psychologically it will also have a negative effect on you.

#4 Minimize or totally exclude coffee intake

A major mistake that we, travelers commit in such situations is to drink tonnes of coffee.
But it doesn't help, it only worsens the condition, as it only shocks the organism. The side-effect will kick-back later, when you'll feel more tired.
Drinking too much coffee is also harmful for the heart. It's good to minimize coffee and only drink very little in the morning or none at all.

#4 Eat more fruits and vegetables than usually

Give more importance to vitamin intake by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. Salads and whole fruits will refresh you.
Natural juices are great - but it will be hard to find anything even close to natural, nowadays - despite the "100 % natural" labels on bottles you can find in shops (which you can almost never believe!).

#5 Hydrate yourself, drink plenty of liquids

During the flight you were seated for a long time, so it's important to drink more than normally afterwards. Improves blood-flow, helps fight against travel fatigue.
My top choice is fruit juices, but water is always great. Especially mineral water.

#7 Eat according to the new time zone

Stop eating in the middle of the night, eat according to the new time zone. Because, if you eat (even when not hungry), then the body will have to digest it.
It will be less likely for you to wake up in the middle of the night, feeling hunger.

#8 Expose yourself to the sunshine!

Sunlight has an almost inexplicable positive effect on our body and mind. I feel a lot more energy, once having walked in sun-lit areas. It's interesting, but the sunlight can help reduce jet lag!

#9 Do light exercise

It's vital not to overstress your body physically. Light jogs, even indoor gym will help. Movement is important, you don't have to do weightlifting!
Obviously, it's primarily about having an optimal blood-flow, but it also refreshes the mind and you will be more resistant at psychological stress.

#10 Forget sleeping pills

I never use any artificial means to cope with this condition, so I discourage anyone taking sleeping pills.
Side-effects can harm you and you won't really adapt your entire body, it will only create a false sense of adaptation. Never trick your body!

#11 Don't over-eat, don't over-drink

After having arrived, it's important to focus on the light foods. Heavy foods and too much liquids are dangerous in this situation.
Some protein intake is good, but during the first 2-3 days, I wouldn't recommend it. Those foods (like meat and eggs) tend to be hard to digest, they can drain energy away.
Too many liquids can also harm, as it can increase blood pressure and eye pressure as well. It's bad for the heart, if you overload yourself with too much liquid.
Find the optimum amount. Slightly more than back home, but not in industrial quantities.

#12 Avoid noise, avoid strong artificial light

Don't watch much TV, don't stare at LCD screens, don't walk much in areas where artificial light is strong (like supermarkets, metro stations), don't go to loud music clubs where light and noise will get you even more tired.

Conferences and business meetings can also be tiring with all the noise and agglomeration - but generally you will be allowed to take a break (which you can use for resting outside of the venue and eat).

As mentioned earlier, sunlight is healthy and pleasant, but artificial light will only tire you.

These were my 12 jet lag-coping tips, techniques that do work. I hope they will be of use to you.

If you have any thoughts to share, don't hesitate to comment down below!

Escape Hunter

About the Author:

Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...


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