Traveling is for me and many people is undoubtedly an exciting and enriching experience, offering the opportunity to explore new cultures, cuisines, and landscapes. However, where you are traveling to sometimes comes with its own set of challenges, Jetlag and travel fatigue is one of the biggest culprits in air travel. Crossing multiple time zones can cause havoc on your body’s internal clock, leaving you feeling tired, disoriented, and generally unwell. Fortunately, there are several strategies and tips that can help you conquer travel fatigue and beat jetlag thereby allowing you to make the most of your journey. In this article, we’ll explore these strategies and provide you with practical advice to ensure you arrive at your destination feeling refreshed and ready to explore.
What is Jetlag?
Jetlag is the result of a disturbance in your body’s internal circadian rhythms triggered by swift travel across multiple time zones. The body’s innate timekeeping mechanism, responsible for regulating sleep, hunger, and various bodily functions, requires a period of adjustment to synchronize with the new time zone. This disruption can manifest in a spectrum of symptoms, encompassing fatigue, headaches, muscle aches and joint pain, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and digestive issues. The extent of jetlag’s impact may vary depending on the number of time zones crossed and your unique physiological tolerance.
Listed below are the practical strategies to conquer travel fatigue and jetlag:
Gradually Adjust Your Sleep Schedule
A highly effective approach to minimize the effects of jetlag involves a gradual alteration of your sleep schedule in the days leading up to your departure. If your journey takes you eastward, consider the practice of going to bed and waking up an hour earlier each day during the lead-up to your trip. Conversely, if your destination is to the west, aim to shift your sleep schedule an hour later each day. If you are going on an international, flight, find out the time difference and work with it accordingly. This incremental adjustment will help your body adjust to the new time zone.
Always Stay Hydrated
Staying adequately hydrated is crucial in fighting travel fatigue, as dehydration can emphasize its effects. It is essential to consume ample fluids during your journey especially since airplane cabins are notorious for their dry air, which can contribute to dehydration. To counter this, stay aware from beverages like alcohol and caffeine, as they have a diuretic effect, further depleting your body’s hydration levels and potentially disrupting your sleep patterns.
Avoid Heavy Meals
Excessive consumption of heavy, indulgent meals can leave you feeling lethargic and prone to digestive discomfort, particularly when you’re on the move. Choose light, balanced meals and snacks that are easy on your stomach. Avoid heavy, greasy foods that can disrupt your digestion and make you feel even more tired. By making mindful choices when it comes to your food intake, you can promote both comfort and vitality during your travels.
Take Short Naps
Short power naps can be beneficial in combating travel fatigue. A 20-30 minute nap can provide a quick energy boost without causing grogginess. However, avoid long naps, as they can disrupt your sleep at night.
Engaging in light physical activity upon arrival can help combat travel fatigue. Stretching, walking, or doing some gentle yoga can promote circulation and reduce feelings of stiffness or lethargy.
Prolonged sitting in a cramped airplane seat especially when travelling for more than four hours can increase the risk of blood clots. It is beneficial to stand up, walk around the cabin, and stretch your legs every 1-2 hours. Simple leg exercises, such as ankle pumps and knee lifts, can also help improve circulation.
Adjust to the Local Time Immediately
As soon as you arrive at your destination, make an effort to adjust to the local time zone. This means eating, sleeping, and engaging in activities according to the new time zone’s schedule. Exposure to natural light during the day can help reset your internal clock, so spend time outdoors whenever possible.
While travel fatigue and jetlag may seem unavoidable when navigating multiple time zones, diligent planning and effective strategies can greatly diminish their influence on your journey. By methodically realigning your sleep patterns and following the recommendations listed above, you can reach your destination ready to go. One thing though is our bodies respond differently, so it may require some experimentation to pinpoint the strategies that best suits you.
Wishing you safe and enjoyable travels!
May Oyairo is the Publisher of MannaXPRESS.