How to overcome jet lag?

Jet set is pleasurable, but jet lag is painful. Both seem to come as a package of traveling across continents and time zones. Jet lag has caused my insomnia, and possibly a decrease in productivity, but I must be productive, creative and innovative in this life.

It can take up to a day for each time zone crossed for our body to adjust to the local time. If you suffer from jet lag, you’re not alone. I read from an article in the in-flight magazine during my one-way flight in Summer 2016, according to the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine, up to 95% of all flyers suffer in some way from jet lag, with a spectrum of symptoms e.g. mild fatigue, nausea, dizziness, memory loss.

Some strategies to overcome jet lag include:

  1. If possible, fly from east to west, because jet lag is generally worse for the time lost traveling west to east.
  2. If fly easy, get up early and avoid the daylight on the day of travel. If fly west, stay up late the night before, and absorb as much light as you can.
  3. move around on the airplane, but not during turbulence, because the pressure of air cabins decrease blood oxygen level.
  4. simulate our schedule and routine to suit the destinations, before we leave and while in flight.
  5. arrive few days early, while balancing the need to be on top of our game and the extra cost for accommodation.
  6. take a hot shower or bath before sleeping.
  7. minimize sleep distractions with an eye mask and/or earplugs [1].
  8. A Nobel Laureate whom I have met twice (once in the West and once in the East) shared with me that he consumed melatonin. Melatonin is also recommended by NASA’s onw department of fatigue countermeasures.
  9. supplements e.g. vitamins D and B.
  10. light therapy, see the work by Stanford-based Jamie Zeitzer (ref2016/jamie_zeitzer_20160702.png).

[1] They are my essential items for travel. I found it challenging to use earplugs on an airplane due to pressure, but I have been using earplugs to sleep with snoring Honey Panda and parents/parents-in-law, and in hostels (if I don’t have to rely my on alarm clock to wake up in the morning). More importantly, earplugs have helped me to study and work at noisy places, including office.

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