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Flying overseas, we all have to face Jet Lag, even though people are not suffering from it that badly. It’s also quite common to get jet-lagged only one way or only after the return flight, cause of after-trip-depression…

What’s Jet Lag

We call Jet Lag the set of disorders affecting travelers after a cross-sectional flight, and it seems it gets worse crossing six or more time zones, especially from West to East.

Those disorders are due to our body’s 24-hour rhythm, following both the alternation of day and night and personal life habits. We’re all unconsciously following our own internal rigid clock that science calls circadian rhythm.

Facing Jet Lag
© sweetlouise, Pixabay License

Jet Lag problems happen when one’s circadian rhythm is forced into a sudden adaptation to new times of light/darkness and rest/activity, causing blood pressure and hormone secretions alteration.

Those effects also vary according to age, individual health condition and personal sleeping habits.

Jet Lag symptoms

There’re several possible symptoms, lasting till ten days (!), all quite annoying, but you might develop just some or one of them.

The most commons are sleeping-related disorders such as insomnia or daytime sleepiness, also causing concentration problems.

Some people, like my mum, also get strong migraines, and the worst cases suffer from confusion, motor issues, tearing, and lack of salivation.

Tips to face Jet Lag

I had to cope with Jet Lag myself, but not that often, and above all, I meet lots of guests at the hotel having trouble dealing with it.

To help them fully enjoy their holiday in my boutique hotel in Levanto, I researched and collected some useful tips from personal and friends’ experiences.

So, here are some practical tips to face Jet Lag after a long haul flight.

Before the departure

A few days before the flight, start pushing your bedtime later if you’re flying west or earlier if you’re flying east, to start adjusting your own circadian rhythm to the destination one.

Doing so will automatically adjust your eating time as well as hunger and sleep tend to influence each other.

Once landed, try to enter the local rhythm immediately. I know sometimes it’s really hard, and when you get to a hot destination, it’s even worse, but staying out when you land and it’s daytime really makes a difference as natural sunlight has serotonin levels adjust to the time change.

Physical activity also adjust the circadian rhythm and help tire you out and sleep at night.

During the flight

I already wrote a detailed post sharing practical tips to face a long haul flight happily, but to sum Jet Lag related tips up:

  • as soon as you board, set your watch to destination time
  • do your best to start staying awake or sleeping according to the new schedule
  • drink plenty of water
  • avoid alcohol and caffeine
  • eat when food is served on board as meals are scheduled according to destination time (protein-rich meals sustain energy and carb ones make you sleepy)

Melatonin and Jet Lag treatments

I never took medications or melatonin, but most guests I chat with do, and it seems it might really help me cope with Jet Lag.

I don’t know, I don’t feel comfortable with pills of any kind, but it’s up to each one to decide in this field… the only thing I recommend is to check with your doctor before taking any medication!

If you agree with me and don’t feel like taking pills (0.5 mg at bedtime), keep in mind that some foods provide good melatonin doses: oats, corn, almonds, cocoa, tomatoes, cabbage, apples, pineapples, oranges, and cherries.

As per medications, the most common among my guests are the light sedative Z-drugs, to be taken at bedtime or right before boarding if you land and need to be active right away: Zolpidem (10 mg) and Zopiclone (7.5 mg).

Some guests also take Triazolam as a specific treatment of temporary insomnia (125-200 mg at bedtime).

Silvia's Trips, female solo travel blog

Last tip? Don’t overthink, plan your trip, board, relax and enjoy!

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Silvia's Trips

Hi there! My name is Silvia and after 15 years between the Paris Opera and the Palau de les Arts in Valencia I now run a boutique hotel in Cinque Terre, deal with tourism management and blogging, sail, horse-ride, play guitar and write about my solo trips around the world. For more info about me and my travel blog check my full bio.

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