Successfully dealing with jet lag symptoms depends largely upon the degree of planning and preparation you undertake prior to your trip, and these steps are the key to substantially reducing or limiting the effects of jet lag when you reach your destination.
Because staying focused, fresh and alert will be top priority upon your immediate arrival (when you will need to find transportation, directions and even make monetary transactions), the use of natural remedies to enjoy better sleep during your flight is also essential.
The true effects of jet lag, especially feeling disoriented and physically “out of whack” may not become immediately apparent to you; although you may be aware of a noticeable discrepancy between your emotional or mental “energy” and your physical state. Many travelers describe feeling both “tired” and “wired” at the same time thanks to the excitement of their arrival and the physical duress of the journey. You will notice the most obvious and challenging signs of jet lag in connection with your hunger and sleep patterns.
When arriving in a time zone behind your home time zone, some people claim that taking a short (no more than 40 minute) nap upon arrival will help you to keep going until local bedtime. You will probably find it preferable however to forego a nap and to stay awake so that your body can immediately begin the process of adapting its circadian rhythms.
When arriving in a time zone ahead of your home time zone, you will need to plan on trying to sleep for as much of the night as possible, even if your body thinks that it is still midday. In these instances, natural sleep remedies like herbal teas, warm baths, aromatherapy and relaxation or meditation practices can help to trigger the body’s natural sleep cycle and begin the adaptation process.
Symptoms of jet lag are often more pronounced when you travel to a time zone ahead of your own. The circadian disorientation that results from moving forward in time means that you are more likely to find yourself suffering from insomnia and difficulty sleeping at night, then struggling with drowsiness, fatigue and exhaustion during the day.
These jet lag symptoms can be effectively managed through light therapy (essentially adjusting your body clock by making sure that you are exposed to as much daylight as possible during waking hours) and by immediately establishing a consistent sleep-wake cycle upon arrival.
In other words, regardless of whether or not you suffer from insomnia, make sure that you go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. Sleeping late will only exacerbate the problem and will delay your body’s adaptation to new environmental cues.
Maintaining a healthy diet, continuing to limit caffeine, alcohol and other internal stimulants, and continuing to exercise will go a long way towards facilitating your body’s adjustment to a new sleep cycle.
You might also be tempted to try to ignore the symptoms of jet lag altogether, and to overlook using even the simplest natural sleep remedy in favor of “letting it pass”.
If you are suffering from a very mild case of jet lag, or the difference between your departure and arrival time zones is minimal (one to two hours), you can probably get away with little or no jet lag treatment.
However, if you have traveled a longer distance or you suffer from persistent or significant jet lag symptoms, actively managing your jet lag becomes essential.