“Don’t worry about the world ending today, it’s already tomorrow in Australia” – From Charles M. Schulz
The count down is on to my first really big international trip from the West coast of Canada to Perth, in Western Australia. What can I say? I married and Aussie! I figured we would end up going back to his homeland eventually and, now, eventually has actually arrived!
Aside from the World’s most deadliest snakes and spiders, I have been feeling most anxious about the 24 hours of travel and the 15 hour time difference and how I am going to adjust to it. So I set to the task of researching the top tips for managing jet lag. Not only do I feel more prepared, I also have a blog post to put out for you the day I leave for my great adventure to the Land Down Under! I hope it comes in handy for your next big travel adventure, too!
What is jet lag?
Simply, it is the disruption of our natural bio-rhythms, or circadian rhythms due to the unnatural crossing of time zones during air travel. Our 24 hour internal clocks happily tick along, balancing our rest and wake cycles, feeding and digestive cycles and the physiological release of regulating chemicals and hormones in our body in response to day and night. When we travel through several time zones, losing or gaining hours of light and time, we can get very disorganized in our natural cycles.
Upon our arrival we may expect our bodies to stay awake when we are normally sleeping, eat when we should be finished digesting and sleep when it used to be the middle of the day! Symptoms of jet lag are a direct cause of throwing this all off kilter.
Symptoms of jet lag:
- Fatigue or extreme exhaustion
- General malaise or feeling unwell
- Irritability and mood swings
- Increased symptoms of anxiety and unease
- Brain fog and feeling disconnected
- Poor judgement and confusion
- Lack of concentration and memory
- Lack of appetite
- Indigestion, constipation or diarrhoea
- disordered sleeping, including the inability to fall asleep, broken sleep, and reluctance to wake in the morning
- difficulty staying awake during the day
The severity and duration of jet lag depends on how large the leap, but can be felt even after a 3 hour span. For some it may last a day or 2, for others the disruption may last days or even weeks. It is impossible to avoid jet lag all together for long haul travels but there are some tips to help reduce the impact and get those rhythms back on track as quickly as possible!
Before you Go:
- Shift before your trip. If it is possible, start pushing your eating and sleeping patterns towards the time zone you will be destined for. This is easier said than done and may not be realistic.
- Reduce unnecessary stress by being organized and avoid leaving your packing and planning to the last minute. This can rattle your nervous system and leave you feeling frazzled before you have even begun your journey!
- Get plenty of sleep before you depart, start your trip rested. Think of it as charging your batteries before you go!
- Stay hydrated throughout your travels. This one is critical. I know, I know, if you have the bladder of a small child like me, the thought of always having to go to the bathroom kind of sucks. It sucks even more when you are a blind person accessing public washrooms, but, staying hydrated is one of the best ways to support your body through the cruel and unusual punishment of time warping! Don’t let yourself get dehydrated! Plus, it forces you to get up and stretch your legs regularly, which leads to the next tip…
- Stretch your legs! Moving can reduce pain, stiffness, swelling and potential blood-clotting. Try to take walks around the cabin as often as possible.
- Use a eye masks and ear plugs to cancel out light and sound and help you relax. Listen to a relaxation meditation or gentle music.
- Avoid too much caffeine or alcohol on your flight. If you are going to partake, drink twice as much water to ensure hydration.
- Eat light and clean, avoiding heavy foods that may lead to indigestion. Keep sugar in moderation. Water and fiber rich foods can also help with reducing constipation from sitting for hours at a time.
- avoid touching your face and support your immune system to reduce picking up a travel bug so you don’t go down at your destination.
- Don’t over schedule your first couple of days, give yourself some grace and time to ease in.
- Don’t think of what time “it was”, think about what time “it is” and participate in the activities of your new time zone.
- Push through the day and get on the sleep schedule of your new time zone as quickly as possible. Nap if you must but limit your power nap to no more than 30 minutes.
- set an alarm and force yourself up in the morning, try not to sleep in. If you wake early, consider enjoying the morning sunrise and embrace the day!
- Get as much natural light as you can as it helps to regulate your brain chemistry.
- Stay active and get your body moving.
- Consider trying the sleep regulating supplement, melatonin, to help restore your sleeping rhythms, take a low dose a couple of hours before you intend to try and sleep.
- If you are familiar with low dose CBD edibles, consider them for a sleeping aid.
- Try valerian tincture or capsules, or brew up a cup of chamomile or sleepy-time tea in the evening.
Where ever you are travelling to, enjoy the moments! Stay open to the amazing experiences and possibilities that may come your way! Bon Voyage!
Do you have any travel adventures you want to share in the comments or any other tips to jet setting like a pro? Feel free to share them!