The worst thing that can ruin a holiday is not other than a case of jet-lag. The headache and being awake at 4 a.m can put your plans on hold. And if you were hoping for an action packed itinerary a jet-lag won’t allow you to have fun. According to a recent scientific article form the University of California, Berkeley it takes almost a full day for every time of difference to combat the effects. This means that if your flight lasts sever hours it will take you a whole week until you start feeling like yourself again. Jet lag effects can be devastating. We talked to three highly regarded experts in their respective fields Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., an international etiquette expert, Greg Geronemus the co-CEO of smarTours and Erin Clifford a certified wellness coach, about how to combat jet-lag before the flight, in-flight and on arrival.
The Frequent International Traveler
Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a frequent international traveler and an international etiquette expert who is founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide a cross-cultural and international protocol firm based in Austin, Texas. Accredited in Intercultural Management by the Hofstede Centre in Helsinki, Finland, Schweitzer advises and trains motivated individuals, in Global 2000 companies and organizations. She is an internationally recognized consultant, trainer, speaker, moderator and author of the best-selling and international award-winning book, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide. Here, are her best tips:
There are several ways to reduce jet lag, however very few ways to prevent it. One method is to exercise prior to boarding the airplane, even if it means walking around the airport for 30 minutes.
Plan to arrive at your destination a day in advance if possible. This allows your circadian rhythm a chance to recover if you can spend time in the sunshine and light.
Prepare to acclimate to your destination by setting your watch to the destination time zone in advance.
Bring noise-reducing headphones on board to get sleep on the plane.
Upon arrival, plan to spend time exercising or sitting in sunlight.
Download soothing music, sounds of nature or “white noise” to your iPod to facilitate sleep on the airplane and in your hotel.
If possible, schedule a massage to ease those stiff joints.
The Guided Tour Company CEO
Greg Geronemus, is the co-CEO of smarTours a guided tour company based in New York City that has taken almost 200,000 travelers to 40 destinations worldwide. Recently the company announced that it’s returning to Egypt one of the most popular destinations suspended due to the Egyptian Revolution in January, 2011. Here are his top tips:
Leave home well rested. Avoid a hectic last night or a bon-voyage party. Plan as if you’re leaving two days before you really are. Keep those last 48-hours before you leave low key. Then you have two orderly, peaceful days after you’ve packed so that you are physically ready to fly. You’ll fly away well rested and 100 percent capable of enjoying the bombardment of your senses that will follow.
Stay hydrated. It’s no secret that being dehydrated can wreak havoc on your health. It turns out that it also intensifies jet lag symptoms. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol. Another downside is that cocktails or caffeine may make it harder to catch some shut-eye when you’re ready to wind down.
Try deep breathing exercises. Air travel is associated with a drop in blood oxygen levels due to low cabin pressure. This can definitely leave you feeling out of it. Try deep breathing exercises to bring you back to center.
Avoid screen time. Turning to the glowing screen of your phone or tablet for relaxation may actually have the opposite effect. As tempting as it is to sit and watch movies the whole flight, refrain from turning on the TV. Staring at a screen for fours just keep you awake.
Get some sun. When you arrive at your destination, walk outside in the sun as much as possible. The key to stopping jet lag right off the bat is to spend the first day in your destination outdoors. The light will help you adjust your body’s clock, and walking will keep you awake. Have breakfast in an outdoor cafe, do some sightseeing, take an interest in your surroundings; you’ll notice that you’ll feel ok when you’re out in the sun.
Change the time on your watch. This is a quick-hit jet lag hack. The simple act of setting your wristwatch to the local time of your destination can semi-trick your brain into adapting. If it’s bedtime in your arrival city, then try and get some sleep. Alternatively, if it’s daytime there, act accordingly on the flight.
Pass on sleeping pills. After waking up from a pill-induced sleep you often feel very groggy, which is not the right way to kick off a trip in a different time zone.
And to help you sleep after you arrive, consider a pill like Ambien. Managing a good seven hours of sleep a night in Europe, or after flying home, hastens your transition to local time. You’re not disabled by sleepiness that first afternoon and can stay awake until a decent bedtime. Ambien can have side effects, so consult with your doctor, and read and follow the directions carefully. Other travelers rave about melatonin, a hormone that helps recalibrate your internal clock.
The Wellness Coach
Erin Clifford is a Chicago-based Holistic Wellness Coach and founder of Erin Clifford Wellness Coaching and Rockstar Doggy Momma. She is deeply passionate about working with families (including puppies!) and professionals in developing healthy lifestyles to create a more fulfilling, happier existence. Here are her best tips:
Take a melatonin supplement, a hormone the body makes that regulates the cycle of sleeping and waking, three nights before you travel and three nights after you arrive to help adjust. It is best taken in liquid form under the tongue.
Get your body on a schedule. When people travel they have a tendency to focus on what time it is back home, but you’re not at home. Do your best to adjust to the new time zone by immediately getting into a routine, including meal times. Encourage yourself to stay awake until your normal bedtime.
Plan your first day. For example, if you land in the morning, check into your hotel and have an afternoon of activities planned. Go back to your room for a quick shower and cat nap, then to your dinner reservation.
Pump up the protein. Be sure to include lean protein at every meal, including snacks. Protein keeps your metabolism firing and energy levels up all day long. It will also keep you feeling satisfied so you will be less likely to overindulge in unwanted calories (chips, cookies, ice cream) that we all crave when we’re feeling sleep deprived.
Exercise the day you arrive (and throughout your trip) to get some energy. For instance, if you’re going on holiday to a new place do some sightseeing and explore the city. You will not only get a ton of steps in from walking, but it will keep your mind distracted from thinking about your underlying jet lag.
Nap wisely. The key to waking up refreshed from a nap is all about timing. Just 20 minutes is all you need to reap the benefits, such as improved alertness and a brighten mood. But if you nap 30-60 minutes you run the risk of feeling groggier because you woke up in the middle of a sleep cycle. However, if you have a full 90 minutes of napping, you can complete a full cycle and feel refreshed and ready to go.
In our times with cheap flight tickets and gorgeous hotels all over the world traveling a lot is the norm. A weekend in London, Dubai, Paris or New York requires almost no planning at all. With a few clicks on your Smartphone you can book a hotel and a flight in no time. However even the most experienced travelers know that everybody can experience the devastating effects of jet-lag. The good news is that if you follow the tips from our experts you will be able to minimize the symptoms and enjoy your vacations or your business trip.