Tips to avoid and overcome jet lag

What is jet lag?

Jet lag is an alteration of the biological rhythms of our body, produced when we travel long distances, through different time zones. This can cause fatigue, headaches, insomnia, digestive problems, irritability or confusion, among others.

Before the trip

  • It is often said that traveling east produces worse jet lag because we are forced to advance our schedule and this costs us more than delaying it. In other words, we are forced to sleep when our body is active and to get up in the middle of the night. For this reason, it is also said that if you travel to the west, it is better to land in the afternoon because that way there will be a few hours to go to bed, while if you travel to the east it is better to arrive in the morning so that the body activates.
  • A stop over somewhere in between, will help your body to better adapt to the new routine.
  • You can try to alter your sleep pattern before traveling so that it resembles the one of your destination. If you travel west, it is good to go to bed and eat a little later than usual, while if you travel east, it would be appropriate to do the opposite.

During the flight

  • Avoid drinks with alcohol and caffeine, as they can increase the feeling of fatigue and cause dehydration. Carbonated and sugary drinks are also not recommended because they can cause bloating stomach.
  • Drinking a lot of water to stay hydrated is probably the most important tip.
  • Change the time of your watch to that of your destination early in your flight.
  • Get up out of your seat, walk through the cabin and do exercises to activate and promote blood flow.
  • Eat light meals to avoid digestive problems. You can eat purees, cooked vegetables, rice, chicken, fruit, nuts and yoghurts. You can check the flight menu before traveling and you can also bring your own healthy snacks.
  • Washing your teeth after every meal is important because digestion begins in the mouth, so good oral hygiene will help you maintain a healthy ecosystem.
  • Try to sleep to be rested when you get to your destination. We recommend you to bring earplugs and an eye mask, you can also ask for a pillow and a blanket on the plane.
  • Wear comfortable clothes for better sleep. Avoid tight-fitting garments as these may restrict blood circulation. We also recommend you to bring a pair of thick socks, and a jacket to avoid getting cold with the air conditioning.
  • As a last resort and only recommended for extreme cases, you can resort to supplements such as melatonin, which is a regulator of sleep. Do this only if under medical supervision.

When you arrive

  • Try to adapt your meal schedule to the new time zone as soon as possible, even if you are not hungry and you have to force it a bit at first.
  • Try to adapt your sleep schedule as soon as possible too. If you land during the day, avoid getting into bed immediately; walk, sunbathe, exercise and stay awake until it gets dark.
  • If it is time to sleep but you are not tired, you can perfume the pillow with a few drops of lavender or thyme essence, take a cup of camomile, and read in bed with dim light to get yourself relaxed.
  • Have breakfast, even if you are not hungry to maintain energy levels all day long. Take protein and nuts, such as almonds, which are rich in melatonin. Finally, have a light dinner for an easy digestion and better sleep.

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