How Frequent Flyers Combat Jet Lag: Five Tips for a Successful and Restful Trip
Few international travelers are able to avoid the scourge of jet lag but many have developed personal strategies to adapt to new time zones after a long flight in order to minimize its impact. Jet lag makes you tired when you should be awake, and it makes you wired when it’s time to sleep.
Our own editorial director, Jonathan Spira, compensates for the change on eastbound trans-Atlantic flights by partially adjusting to his destination’s time zone starting several days in advance, taking as late a flight as possible to ensure maximum sleep while on board, and taking a brief nap shortly after arrival after flights where only four or five hours of sleep are possible.
While there are many purported high-tech solutions from goggles to Viagra, most travelers are far more practical and pragmatic, and opt for common sense solutions that work for them.
In a recent poll conducted in conjunction with FlyerTalk, the world’s largest online travel community, we asked our readers what their most effective strategies are.
In terms of primary measures taken, frequent travelers fall into two camps: the majority (three-quarters of those surveyed) either adjust to a new time zone by brute force, i.e. they stay up until it is bedtime at their destination, while the remainder say that they slowly ease into the new time zone.
Almost forty percent of those surveyed say they use some sort of sleeping aid to help them adjust. Of that group, sixty percent said they take melatonin to help promote sleep, while the rest used sleeping pills. When it comes to needing to stay awake, 18% say they rely on coffee as a stimulant.
The sun is also an important factor to consider when making a time zone adjustment. Nearly one third of respondents said they use sunlight to naturally adjust their internal clocks by spending as much time outdoors as possible and/or keeping a room’s curtains wide open. The exposure to sunlight helps the brain adjust more quickly.
For some travelers, the solution is simply to ignore the time zone change altogether. Six percent of those who took the survey said that they don’t attempt to adjust at all and choose to remain on their home time zone.
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