To combat jet lag and travel fatigue you need to do two things:
1. Get into the right sleep/wake rhythm from the get-go
2. Keep yourself hydrated throughout your journey
No 1 probably doesn’t come as a surprise. After all, you’re flying thousands of miles and crossing multiple time zones.
But did you know that the combination of low air humidity and low air pressure in an airplane cabin accelerates dehydration significantly? Which in turn intensifies the effects of jet lag? And just for good measure, adds a couple of extra nasty symptoms to the mix?
To minimize some of these effects, we’ve compiled a list of myths to avoid when traveling long-haul.
THE MYTHS (HOW NOT TO BEAT JET LAG)
First off, and it may come as a surprise, plain water doesn’t get absorbed as well as other methods of hydration. Even if you try to counter the dehydration that comes with flying by drinking copious amounts of water, you will still end your trip dehydrated! Plus, the change in cabin pressure affects the kidneys, which, combined with the long sitting period, leads to fluid pooling in your lower extremities. Say "hello!" to swollen feet and ankles, as well as constant trips to the bathroom.
2. COFFEE & TEA
Many travelers use coffee or tea to help them adjust their bodyclock to their new time zone. And indeed, it can be a great way of forcing your body to align with a new sleep/wake cycle once you arrive.
But with their caffeine content – as coworkers in offices everywhere have experienced – coffee and tea can act as diuretics. It doesn’t necessarily lead to full-on diarrhea, but it means more visits to the bathroom which leads to dehydration – exactly what you want to avoid when flying.
Alcohol is no doubt a great way to kick-start your holiday, but enjoying a pre-flight drink isn’t as relaxing for your body as you might expect.
First off, alcohol will cause dehydration. Which, in an airplane cabin already 3 times as dry as the Sahara Desert, is the last thing you want.
Also, consuming alcohol inhibits the body’s production of antidiuretic hormones. Which means, you guessed it, frequent trips to the bathroom and loss of fluids.
Lastly, alcohol is known to interfere with your deep sleep cycle. This makes getting quality sleep during the flight and adjusting your body clock even harder than usual.
4. AVOIDING SLEEP
This one has to be the most absurd. It’s claimed that avoiding sleep for a night after you arrive in the new time zone will help you adjust. This just isn’t true, and can, in fact, compound the effects of jet lag during your first few days.
5. SPA/BATH HOUSE
There are some people who swear by going to a bathhouse after a flight to soak and relax. They claim that it has helped them to deal with jet lag, but there has been no scientific proof of this. It may be nice to visit a sauna or bathhouse after an overseas flight, but it probably won’t do much to help you adjust your body.
6. IV THERAPY
IV therapy has been suggested as a way for people to get hydrated after a long flight. The problem with it though is that they can cost anywhere from $100 to $200 per administration, which is unbelievably expensive. It can also be difficult to even find a wellness clinic that offers it at your destination.
While a good massage is always relaxing, it has no real benefit in countering jet lag. Yes, your body, especially your lower limbs, can get swollen from sitting for so long in an airplane, but this is primarily because of excess water, that your body cannot absorb. While using compression socks can help your blood to circulate, it won’t help you hydrate.
8. HYPERBARIC CHAMBER
The pressurized nature of cabins on airplanes can cause people to become deprived of oxygen. A hyperbaric chamber is an enclosed space that is saturated with oxygen. It has been offered as a way to replenish your body with oxygen after a long flight.
The cost of just one session, about an hour, is $200. Even if you were willing to pay that kind of money for this service, it can be very difficult to find a place that has one where you’re going. On top of this, replenishing your oxygen is beneficial, but will not do a lot when it comes to how to deal with jet lag and its symptoms.
Ubiquinol is a reduced form of an enzyme that is naturally produced in our bodies. It is an antioxidant supplement used to protect the body from oxidative stress. As you age, your body produces less and less of it naturally.
While it may be a good idea to use it in your regular life as a dietary supplement, it is not really a solution for jet lag. It does nothing to regulate your Circadian Rhythm and has not benefit with hydration, which are two major problems that need to be addressed if you are to tackle jet lag.