Some people dread thinking about sitting long hours on layover flights. This is where jet lag starts to build due to the time zone crossing. Moreover, unpredictable events like flight delays or technical problems can make your journey last longer than planned, thus adding more stress and fatigue. That’s why relaxing before leaving home coupled with a good dose of self-control are the preconditions for stress-free travel and naturally combat jet lag.
I’ve been travelling to Australia for +15 years, almost every year, and experienced many jet lag symptoms. Whatever part of the world you are flying from, it means a long flight journey. From Europe it takes between 17-21 hours, from USA depending which direction you fly from, the average flight time is around 20 hours. From Asia, you have the shortest way, though always 8 to 10 hours.
What is jet lag: the common symptoms
Below is my list of tips, that I have learnt over the years, on natural jet lag remedies, when flying west to east or vice-versa. But before getting into this topic, a few words about what jet lag is all about. If you are not familiar with the term, jet lag is also known as zone change syndrome, and it occurs when you travel long distances and across multiple time zones.
The most common jet lag symptoms are the following:
- Daytime Sleepiness.
- Unable to fall asleep at night.
- Fatigue and a general feeling of grogginess are other subtle symptoms of jet lag.
- Dizzyness. And Nausea from jet lag.
- Loss of appetite.
- Digestion disorders and the list goes on.
It’s important to understand that jetlag is a physiological condition that everyone has when crossing time zones within a short time. So how long does it last?
Well, it varies a lot. For some jet lag lasts one or two days with minimal impact, it can last weeks for others. And I belong to the second category of people. And what makes it worse is flying from west to east.
But there is no proven method on the perfect cure for jet lag because while you can certainly prevent and avoid it, you will not eliminate it. Thus you can reduce the side effects of jet lag. Let’s face after a long-haul flight; I’m sure that you, like everyone else on this planet, will say: I’m jetlagged.
Jet lag cure: how to stay healthy on the plane
The best way to avoid jet lag is preventing it. While there are wonder jet lag remedies, there are a few simple things that are crucial to your health when you fly and can help reduce the side effects of jet lag symptoms.
Stay hydrated on the plane is the most important thing. The second most important thing is to get some sleep and for most people is the biggest challenge. Sleeping on the plane has an immediate impact on a fast and effective jet lag recovery.
Tips to help prevent and combat it
Here are a few tips on dealing with the common in-flight ailments and how to prepare for jet lag.
- First, make yourself comfortable.
If you notice, you have left something behind ask the flight attendants, they usually have it and can help. On your flight, you will get a small bag with long-haul flight essentials:1. Take off your shoes and wear a pair of soft socks. Make yourself comfortable as if you were sitting at home.2. Use a blanket to cover up and a pillow to rest your head. An eye mask can help fall asleep.
3. Wear stretch clothes for maximal comfort. A pair of stretch leggings or a fleece jumper.
On this post, you can read my tips on what to wear on a long flight.
4. Have a spare jumper in your cabin bag
It gets freezy cold on planes. Be prepared for that.
- Here you can read more about how to prepare for the long flights.
- Keep yourself occupied.
Read a book, watch a film, write, listen to your fave music etc. On the one hand, it will make time pass by and on the other side, being active will make you tired and hopefully make you fall asleep.
- Eat the right food.
If you have tried out just anything to fall asleep on the plane, I have a tip that may work for you. Eat a light meal, avoid fish and meat and prefer fresh fruits or a vegetarian meal, rich in complex carbohydrates. A friend suggests this, and it does work for me fantastic.What you need to do is to book your special meal when you book your flight. Moreover, I have tried with a glass of beer that helped me fall asleep. Beer contains hops which are used as a natural herb used in herbal teas and sleeping pills. Don’t drink too much alcohol though, instead drink water, plenty of pure freshwaters.
- Try out a special jet lag diet.
Some people have tried several diets, and on the internet, you can find all kinds of jet lag tips. Some things may work some not; you have to pick what you feel can work well. Some people don’t eat food on the plane (they drink) for 10-15 hours before flying and then only drink water.But if you are like me flying makes me hungry. One thing you should avoid is overeating and of the wrong food. If you can pack your food, and eat small portions at a time. Pick very light food like vegetables and fruits, nuts, etc.
- Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration on the plane.
On the plane air will make your skin dry and eyes will be sore, that’s why you must drink water and not just 1 or 2 glasses, but bottles. Buy your bottle of water after security and ask the flights attendants to refill it. You should calculate the quantity you need. I drink at least 2-3 litres over 12-15 hours flight and have a 50 kg body weight.
- Walk along the cabin corridor and stretch your legs.
I know this is easier said than done. Even short and sound sleep can prevent jet lag symptoms at your arrival. If you cannot fall asleep, there is no point in sitting for hours. Stay up and walk along the corridor for 5-10 minutes whenever you can do that. While walking does some exercise to stretch your legs and ankles, this will avoid legs and ankles swelling and prevent building blood clots in your leg vein, the so-called deep vein thrombosis.Aspirin can help prevent the swelling in the legs and make blood thinner.I use synergic natural food supplements as powerful blood thinner. I don’t take medicines, but if you do, always check with your doctor before taking medicine or anything that causes blood thinner, though. If you are on medications, you must consult your doctor first.
- Avoid drinking alcohol and coffee.
While a beer or two may help you fall asleep or maybe one or two glasses of wine does the same too, but too much alcohol will achieve the opposite effect.I’d not drink any alcohol at all and prefer natural freshwater.I would not take any sleeping pills because these will not induce natural sleep; they will mostly knock you out and give you a big headache the following day. Why not try it the natural way by drinking hot herbal tea? Pack your herbal tea bags or take some lavender essential oils with you and rub it onto your forehead.
Natural remedies to help you recover from common jet lag symptoms
Flying to Australia or any other destinations from the northern hemisphere will cause you some discomfort. The time you need to recover from jet lag will depend on how good your flight is. If you manage to sleep a few hours recovering from jet lag will be much easier because sleep is a sign that your body clock is already adjusting to the time zones.
On top of these, you need to adjust to your new environment quickly.
Adjusting to the local time and season as quickly as you can is the most important thing to dot
If you feel that tiredness overwhelms you, these are my best tips that will help you find the best natural remedies for a fast jet lag recovery:
1. Don’t sleep during the day and only sleep at night.
2. Expose yourself to daylight, take a stroll, and breathe in the fresh air. Arriving on a late afternoon flight works well for me rather than arriving early in the morning.
3. Keep yourself occupied, but at the same time, do not plan too much.
4. Be active in nature but don’t engage in activities that require a high level of concentration.
5. Avoid driving for the first two days after your arrival.
6. Try to adjust your body clock naturally. Melatonin helps adjust your biological rhythm. Taking melatonin to prevent jet lag can help some. Still, not everyone has good results, so it depends on personal situations I would suggest trying out as many things as you can and seeing what works better for you.
Check out this page where you can buy melatonin chewable tablets on Amazon.
7. Eat light food and don’t drink alcohol for a few days. You can also add some natural jet lag vitamins, like Vitamin C and A. Or even more effective, try these work wonders for me.
8. Treat yourself to a couple of days of rest. Book from home your stay for a couple of nights at your arrival destination and give yourself a good rest before setting off into your adventure.
This is, in my opinion, the healthiest way to recover from jet lag. It works great for me all the times. You will fill up with finding your natural balance and fill up with energy.
On this page, you can read more about how to stay fit when travelling.
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First published in 2012, last updated in Jan 2023
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