It’s the long holidays, or as my bougie Nigerian friends would say, “it’s summer time”. The kids are out of school, entrepreneurs have gone on breaks, most nine-to-fivers are on leave, so there’s a lot of jet setting in and out of Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos.
With traveling, from west to east or east to west across time zones, comes a condition most of us despise – Jet Lag. Our bodies are naturally designed to prompt body functions such as hunger, thirst, and sleep within a 24-hour period. These built-in routines are known as circadian rhythms, and when we fly they become a little confused. For the first few days in a new time zone your sleep becomes disturbed, tiredness follows you around in the day time, you’ve got a constant headache and a general feeling of being unwell. The horror!
Jet lag is generally worse when you’re traveling west to east (for example Lagos to Bali) than east to west. A flight from Lagos to Bali could take your body six to eight days to fully recover. That’s because for each time zone crossed your body takes a day to adjust to the local time. Meanwhile if you’re traveling east to west, from Lagos to Chicago, jet lag could last four to five days – about half the number of time zones crossed.
Your body will definitely adjust after a while. But! Nobody has time for that! In the precious summer, every day counts! We’ll be walking through some tried and trusted ways to prevent jet lag, and easier recover from the symptoms. You can try a few together to see what works, or if you’re like me, throw everything at it!
Split up your trip
If possible factor in a stopover when buying your ticket. On long flights traveling across several time zones, a day’s stay in a city halfway to your destination will make it easier for your body to adapt. You can already tell why this would be a go-to Nr. 1 tip for me. The more to explore, the better!
This can also slash the price of your airfare, and give you two destinations at the cost of one. 🎼🎤All we do is win win win . . .
Simulate your new schedule before jetting off
You can begin adjusting your body to the new time zone ahead of your trip. If you’re traveling eastwards try making your bedtime earlier for several nights before you leave. Do the opposite if you’re traveling west.
Jet Lag Rooster is a free online jet lag calculator that can help you figure out how much and when to reset your sleep schedule before jetting off.
Adapt to the local schedule
It’s best to start while in flight. Adjust the time on your watch to local time at your destination. Try to sleep on the plane if it’s night time where you’re going or stay awake if it’s daytime.
If you touchdown at 1 p.m. local time (but 5 a.m. back at home) have lunch instead of breakfast, and avoid the temptation of shutting the hotel window blinds to catch some sleep. Rather head outside and get a lot of sunlight.
Another companion trick is to seize all eating and snacking 8 hours to your flight time, and make sure your next meal (16 or more hours after your last meal) is at the time of breakfast where you’re headed. Something about this resets your circadian rhythm and tells your body that it is morning.
Pick your beverages wisely
Say no to alcohol the day before, during and a day after your flight. And caffeinated beverages too. They cause further dehydration and disrupt sleeping schedules.
DRINK WATER! A whole lot of it! Asides from keeping you hydrated, it also gives you a reason to stand up at intervals to stretch your legs.
If all else fails, consider Melatonin
I try not to resort to pills, but if all else fails and all of these strategies do not work for you, over the counter melatonin supplements is as good as it gets.
Unlike regular sleeping medications that mess with your brain balance, Melatonin, which is also naturally secreted in our bodies helps regulate our circadian rhythms and aids sleep. I always advise talking to your doctor before introducing any supplements into your body.
Bonus tip: Don’t be shy to move around the plane. I’ve found that remaining active, revitalizes and refreshes my body. I walk back & forth my aisle, do a few standing yoga stretches at the back of the plane. It’s so essential to your general well-being.
Do you have any Jet Lag tricks that you’ve tried that worked? Please share! I’d love to hear from you in the comment section