I am from Thailand but now live in the USA. Every year I fly back to Thailand to visit my family and friends. No matter route I choose, the total travel time is going to be at least 24 hours. The time difference between is 12 hours. So basically, my night will become my day and my day will become my night.
Jet lag happens when you travel across time zone. Basically your internal clock is messed up. I only experience mild symptoms of jetlag with being dazed and confused but some people can experience more nasty symptoms like fatigue, insomnia, nausea, and even pain.
Some says traveling east will cause more severe jetlag that traveling west. But I found it’s the opposite for me. I usually get jet lag more when I travel back to the USA . Anyway, you will experience jet lag worse one leg than the other.
There are many suggestions on how to beat jet lag. Some of them are really complicated like fasting before travel (No..I like to eat) or calculate the dose of supplement (Who has time for that?). When I get jet lag, it usually takes me a day to get over it. So I am going to tell you what works for me and hopefully it will work for you too.
Here’s how I do to avoid getting jet lag
I don’t do anything before trip. Some suggests adjusting your sleep schedule slowly tomatch your destination time zone. Again…too complicated.
ON THE PLANE
Stay Hydrated – Most important thing to do on the plane is drinking plenty of water. Keep yourself hydrated can help reduce headache from jet lag. Although free booze on the plane is tempting but try to avoid alcohol and also caffeine. Those can cause dehydration.
Try to Sleep – Your jet lag will get worse if you already lack of sleep even before getting to your new destination. So I try to sleep on the plane whenever I can (although one time I tried to stay up to binge watch the entire season of House of Card on my way to Tokyo, good show but not recommend doing that). If you have a hard time sleeping weather because of the sitting position or a crying baby next to you, I wouldn’t recommend taking sleeping aid while on the plane cause it can make your groggy after. Instead, try an eye mask or good noise cancellation headset and blast the ac
Don’t Overeat on the Plane – Admittedly, airline food isn’t something to rave about (unless you are in first class). Anyway, try not to stuff your stomach with every thing on the tray. I find that a little bit of hungriness after landing helps me readjust my eating schedule at the new local time.
Get Up and Stretch – Your joints, your body, and your digestive system will thank you.
After arriving at your destination, the key is to trick your internal clock to adjust to the new time zone as quickly as possible.
Expose to Sunlight – If I arrive during daytime, the worst thing is stay inside in the hotel room and sleep. I would try to stay outside and get the exposure to the sunlight. This way my body will think it’s a daytime. I may go check the area around the hotel, just to get the sense of place. I may drink coffee or tea to help me stay awake (but not too close to the evening though) at least until the evening. Then I would go to bed early. This way I would sleep at night at my new destination.
Take Melatonin to Help You Sleep – If I arrive during the night, I would try to sleep. If I have a hard time, I would take Melatonin to help me sleep and set my alarm clock to get up in the morning. I may take it again for the first few days in the evening if needed. Like many other drugs or supplements, consult your doctor first.
Eat According to Local Time – One trick to fool your internal clock is know when to feed your stomach. Regularly when you sleep at night, you don’t eat. When you eat first meal after 7 or 8 hour of no food in your stomach, that’s breakfast in the morning. By eating each meal according to the new local time, it can help your body adjust to the new schedule better. So if you arrive at night, try not to eat, even though you’re hungry. Fast and get some sleep. Then get up in the morning and have a good breakfast. See! now you are tricking your body to think that it’s the morning. If you arrive during the day, let’s say lunch time, don’t skip the meal. Eat light snack or salad instead (this is why I suggest, not to overeat on the airplane). Also avoid overeating during the day because it will make you sleepy and want to crash.
Jet lag is no fun. There’s no way to really avoid it. Hope these tips will help you recover from it quickly, so it won’t ruin your plan or your vacation.