November 1, 2012

How To Beat Jet Lag

As you know by now, I am writing from another country this week. For now, though, I am still adjusting to two days of travel, a new time zone, and a wonderfully different culture. I love being American, and all our culture that entails, but I adore learning about and experiencing new cultures. But that’s another post…this one is about the unfortunate consequence of travel. Yep, I’m referring to jet lag. I’ve traveled all over the USA and the world, so I have quite a bit of travel experience. I figured maybe this could help others.

  1. The best overseas travel I have are the times when I arrive at my final destination in the late afternoon or early evening. When this happens, I can grab a bite, shower, and then go to sleep. This helps me to adjust to my new and often very different time zone. Even if I rest on the plane, I am still exhausted. Travel just has that effect. Arriving at a time when I can go to sleep as normal and then awaking in the morning hours definitely helps me to recover from the jet lag.
  2. If I can’t make arrangements to land in the evening at my new time zone, then I just power through the day. I find what I can do to keep me occupied so that I’m not sleeping during the day. This helps me to adjust because I get on the regular day/night schedule of my new time zone. Now, I will go to sleep in the early evening, but I will wake at a normal time even if I have to set an alarm. This always helps with the adjustment.
  3. I never stress about being sleepy. If I need a nap, I go take one. I do want to seize the experience and do as much as I can, but I also want to remember and enjoy my travels. If I’m too tired, that won’t happen, so I value quality over quantity. I also plan enough time in my travels for recuperation. This is critical to recovering from jet lag.
  4. I make sure to eat regularly. For some reason, this helps me to adjust to the new time zone.
  5. I can’t express how crucial drinking tons of water is to adjusting to travel. I know there must be some science behind this. Obviously, if we are hydrated, we are healthier and more balanced.

All of these really lead to one ultimate suggestion: I find a regular schedule, a pattern, as soon as I can so that my body can adjust to the newness of where I am. Pattern is the most critical key to overcoming jet lag as quickly as possible. By getting on the same sleep pattern as the new time zone, I find myself waking at dawn ready to see the new day and new place. If I sleep right away and that means sleeping during the day, it takes me twice as long to adjust. By establishing a regular eating schedule, my body finds comfort in the pattern. When I eat just willy-nilly, my body has serious issues adjusting. Drinking water throughout the day helps me to feel hydrated and focused. By focusing on the quality of my experiences, I eliminate the pressure of “seeing it all” thus I allow myself to enjoy my travels.

Beating jet lag is really just a matter of figuring out what works best for each of us individually. The five I suggest above definitely work for me. Plus, the more I travel the easier it is for me to adjust to jet lag. All I know is the sooner I adjust to jet lag, the better my travel experience.

Image Credit: Photos.com

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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