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Jet Lag Is a Drag

Flying gets you where you want to go, but sometimes it seems like your body has to catch up to where you are. Because we fly up to almost 500 miles an hour, we can arrive in different time zones after a fairly short flight.

I'm sure you've experienced jet lag before. It totally screws with your body and your mind. Some symptoms include the obvious - daytime drowsiness, foggy mind, irritability, difficulty concentrating, headaches, trouble sleeping, and swelling of your hands and feet.

Your body clock, also known as the circadian rhythm, is programmed for regular cycles of day and night - and this cycle gets totally disturbed. Depending on how many time zones you've crossed, it may take several days to restore the circadian rhythm.

Other factors that can make jet lag worse are the cabin pressure that your body is not used to and stale dry air.

Want to know what you can do to help your body adjust? Then

  • Get plenty of rest before your flight. Pack way before your flight so you can fall asleep without worrying if you forgot something.
  • Reset your watch to the time zone you'll be traveling to, so you can mentally prepare your body for the new time.
  • Walk around and do exercises as much as you can to improve your circulation, and hopefully prevent stiffness and swelling.
  • Stay hydrated - the air in the cabin can be really dry, and make you feel sleepy. Avoid alcohol and caffeine right before and during your flight - they'll dehydrate you.
  • If you're taking a red-eye, make the cabin as dark as you can so you can try and sleep. Wear eye shades and earplugs to help you tune out. If at all possible avoid taking red-eye flights.
  • If you can't help but fly during the night, try to sleep as much as you can, and get a window seat if you have the option - that way you avoid any unnecessary drooling on the unsuspecting person sitting next to you.
  • When you arrive in the morning, try to stay awake, and go to sleep at that time zone's normal bedtime. It'll be tough, but you'll get a better night of sleep than if you took a little afternoon cat nap.
  • If you are traveling for work, and crossing over time zones, try to schedule your flight so you arrive a day or 2 in advance. That way you'll have time to recuperate and get your body and mind back on track.
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