If you change time zones as quickly as we can, you will experience what is called jet lag. That means your body’s internal clock is different than the local time. Symptoms of jet lag include sleepiness during the day, insomnia at night, poor concentration, confusion, hunger at inappropriate times or lack of appetite, and general malaise and irritability. How can you deal with it?
Four or five days before you leave, try to match your sleeping and eating times to those at where you are going. This can really help if it’s only a few hours different. For big jumps, you need to do more.
Take it easy on coffee and heavy foods the day before you fly. Be sure to drink water while you’re in the air. Be aware that drinking alcohol will dry you out even more. Bring eye drops, moisturizing lotion, lip balm, and wipes with essential oils for your face. Make sure the packaging can be part of your carry on. Avoid liquids in sizes that are not compliant. Check with your airline on what they consider carry-on luggage.
Take things to help you sleep like a neck pillow. Experiment with it before you go. There are several types. Maybe borrow one from a friend to try before you buy one. Sleeping may be easier with a window seat. Ear plugs and an eye mask may work for you. Again, use at home before you go. People buy these things at the airport and find some of them useless after paying high prices. Small pillows and blankets are available on long flights. Alert your neighboring passengers if you want to be wakened for meals. You can bring your own snacks, too.
Try this: bring an extra pair of socks and put them on after removing your shoes. You can walk around the plane and sleep in more comfort. As soon as you sit down, make this change so as not to bother others later. You can add slippers if you can fit them in your carry on.
Move around the plane if you can every few hours. The flight crew don’t like this so keep moving. Or stand in line at a rest room shifting from one foot to another. In the restroom, do a little stretching and dose your face with water. Then move on to another rest room line.
Realize you will not be at your best when you land. Make all your landing and transportation plans before and follow them. Someone will offer you a ride at a higher price as you try and get your bearings.
Speaking of being groggy, use sleeping pills wisely. Don’t try something new or you might miss your connection. Consider taking melatonin instead. You can get it over the counter and this can naturally reset your body clock. 3 milligrams a half hour before you go to bed for several days after you get there can ease the transition. Another pill to take is a low dose of aspirin. Take this a few days before you go to deal with the inaction of your body on a long flight. Low dose is less than 100 grams. 3 baby aspirin will be enough.
If your flight offers breakfast just before you land, great. If not, eat breakfast as soon as possible. Now you can drink that coffee. Resist the urge to sleep all day after you arrive. Don’t drive a car for a couple of days. You won’t know when extreme sleepiness will hit you. Go with others and get outside in the sunlight with light activity in those first couple days. Walking really helps reset your internal clock. Remind friends or business associates that you may have to go home early if your body wants sleep.