How to overcome Jet Lag, tips from Pilots

Who better to tell us the secrets of overcoming jet lag than airline pilots who fly 1,000 hours a year?

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Jet lag - or "travel fatigue" - is a sleep disorder that occurs when you cross one or more time zones and causes problems for your biological clock, which (obviously) cannot reset to zero time.

To avoid a holiday ruined by general fatigue, disorientation and headaches, you can follow the valuable advice of experts in the field.

What you need to do in the 3 days before your flight

The secret to overcoming jet lag is to align your body's circadian rhythm with the sunrise and sunset times of your destination. This is why it is important to start adjusting your pace to that of your destination country at least three days in advance:

  • depending on the time zone of your destination, go to bed and get up one hour earlier or later each day, without reducing your nightly rest (so as not to arrive at your destination tired);
  • light is essential for a good night's sleep.It is important to wear a mask or darken the room before going to bed (when the brain senses darkness, it begins to produce melatonin, the chemical that triggers sleep);
  • move mealtimes closer to the time you plan to eat during your stay (hunger and sleep are closely linked and tend to influence each other).
Come superare il Jet Lag blog in giro in giro cosa fare prima di partire
Photo by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

What you need to do during the flight (or during navigation)

As soon as you board, set your watch to the time of your destination and follow these tips:

  • if it is daytime at your destination, try to stay awake (but without abusing caffeinated drinks). You can do many things: watch a film (you can download it onto a portable drive before you leave), read a magazine, play mind games, write a travel diary, draw, etc. Avoid playing with your hair (tie it up), change your position often, take off your shoes, walk around the cabin and drink a glass of water at least once an hour;
  • if it is night at your destination, try to sleep. But how can you sleep if you are not tired? The pilots' answer is this: We don't have a button in our body that we can press when we need to sleep! We have learnt to adopt some behaviours: get into a comfortable position, relax your mind, get a pillow to give you good support, close your eyes and cover them with a mask, use earplugs to have silence around you, take melatonin (also produced naturally by our body), there are several types on the market and they are often homeopathic. You can choose the one that suits you best and take it while surfing.
Come superare il Jet Lag blog in giro in giro cosa fare in volo
Photo by Orna Wachman from Pixabay

What to do on arrival

As a general rule, it is better to book a flight that arrives at your destination in the morning or at least during the day, as the direct contact with light allows your body to adjust more quickly to the new time zone. Of course, this isn't always possible, so let's see what precautions you can take.

If it is daytime at your destination:

  • it's finally time for caffeine to give your body a jolt when you arrive at your destination. If you want an immediate boost, you can take it just before the plane starts its descent, in one of the airport bars, or even when you arrive at the hotel during check-in;
  • the temptation to take a half-hour nap will be strong, but you must resist! Naps are the worst enemy of jet lag because they bring you back to the rhythm of your departure. They should be avoided by taking a lukewarm shower, going for a walk, doing some exercise and staying in places where there is light to help restore your circadian rhythm.
  • when you arrive at your destination, if you find it impossible to face the day, really impossible, take a short nap of 20 minutes,but avoid sleeping for a long time. Tiredness should be saved for the evening to facilitate adjustment.

If it is night at your destination:

  • take a hot shower, close all possible sources of light, make yourself comfortable in bed, cover your eyes with a mask and relax;
  • take valerian or melatonin tablets to help you fall asleep (without overdoing it);
  • avoid alcohol as it disturbs your rest;
  • do not drink excessive amounts of caffeinated drinks (even if they are useful to compensate for daytime drowsiness) during the previous 6 hours, as they make it difficult to relax just before falling asleep and also affect the quality of sleep.
Come superare il Jet Lag blog in giro in giro cosa fare a destinazione
Photo by Pexels from Pixabay

Before, during and after:
the rule that always applies

It may sound trivial, but it's not: to stay healthy, it's essential to stay hydrated at all times, so drink plenty of water because it regulates body temperature, strengthens the immune system, purifies and aids digestion, helps regain energy and improve concentration, stimulates the metabolism, prevents headaches and makes you happier.

Come superare il Jet Lag, i consigli dei Piloti rimanere idratati
Photo by Bindle Bottle on Unsplash

Finally, let's not forget that jet lag has a positive side: if we have it, it's because we're travelling! 🙂

Ciao da Cris e Marco del blog in giro in giro

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