Avoiding jet lag when traveling from coast to coast or around the world is entirely possible if you know how to do it. According to a survey conducted by Conde Nast, 93 p. 100 percent of travelers and even 96 percent. 100 of flight attendants suffer from jet lag. Jet lag is not fun because it can affect your ability to enjoy your vacation if you are sidelined by the extreme fatigue that often accompanies adaptation to long flights across multiple time zones.
My first real experience with jet lag came during my first trip abroad to London and after that experience, I swore to learn the secrets to avoid jet lag. I had a flight with JFK’s red eyes in Heathrow and arrived at my hotel around noon. I was so tired when I arrived at the hotel that I took a very long nap. It was exactly the wrong thing to do for me because it took me several days to get used to the rhythm and flow of the London time zone. Since then, I have learned a lot of tricks to avoid jet lag and no longer have my trips put aside.
First of all, you should know that jet lag is the main cause of jet lag. This happens most often from west to east, but you can get a time difference by going from east to west as well. Secondly, I have learned that a huge reason to experience jet lag, at least for me, is purely psychological, but that doesn’t mean that there are no physiological reasons that don’t influence the feeling of jet lag either.
Here are some tips that I have collected and applied over the years that seem to work very well. I used these tips to avoid jet lag when I traveled from Los Angeles to Finland and back in four days for a video shoot with Travel Editor Peter Greenberg. I produced a “Search for Santa” segment at the Arctic Circle with Peter for the ABC-TV Home Show.
1. Sleep little or not at all at night before going on a trip. Believe it or not, it’s good advice to avoid jet lag. I have so much to do the day before a long flight that I stay up very late the day before my trip to take care of last-minute details, like packing my bags and doing a lot of junk. This activity actually served me very well, because I find it very easy to fall asleep on the plane and arrive at my destination ready to admire the scenery. Sleeping in the plane helps me to adapt quickly to the new time zone in which I travel and is very useful to avoid jet lag.
2. Take a Tylenol PM or melatonin to help you sleep on the plane. I find that if I have a little help with a sleeping pill to induce a relaxing sleep, I have the rest and sleep I need during my flight and it is very useful to avoid jet lag. For me, this means only ONE Tylenol P.M. or about 15 mg of melatonin (with one to two 5HTPs) but you should use it responsibly. I take Schiff’s melatonin from Costco and it’s very cheap and I sometimes take melatonin during my holidays to help reduce the effects of jet lag because it helps me adjust my sleep pattern for the new time zone.
Before you rely on Tylenol PM or melatonin for a trip, you really need to take them for a “test ride” before your flight to determine if they are effective for you or not. I first tried these sleeping pills on a Friday night, when I knew I could sleep or relax on a Saturday if they made me too tired after taking them. It is VERY important to do so. The recommended dosage for Tylenol P.M. is TWO tablets. I have NEVER taken two tablets because one tablet is more than enough to put me to sleep. I just want to get a good night’s sleep. I don’t want to feel groggy for a whole day, so you need to personally determine how your body will react to this suggestion. Personally, I am also not a fan of prescription sleep medications and therefore cannot comment on their use for this purpose.
3. DO NOT drink alcohol or caffeine when you fly. Drinking coffee, and caffeinated soft drinks during your flight will dehydrate you and contribute to your feeling of jet lag – so don’t drink these drinks on the day of your trip.