Wondering how to cope with time zone changes on long flights? If you’re one of those frequent long-haul air travellers, you’ve probably already experienced the discomfort caused by this change. Feeling tired, insomnia, digestive disorders and difficulty concentrating are just some of the problems you may face. But there’s good news: you can learn to adapt more easily to the new time zone.

What is jet lag?

Jet lag is a problem you face when travelling quickly across multiple time zones. It is a temporary disorder that interferes with your body’s circadian rhythm, causing unpleasant symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, concentration problems, indigestion or mood swings. Not exactly what you want to experience once you’ve received compensation for your delayed flight (if any) and are ready to enjoy your holiday.

This problem occurs when your body’s “internal clock” is out of sync with the time zone of the location you have arrived at. You change time zones quickly and your body needs time to adapt to the new rhythm. Imagine you’re in New York and your body still thinks you’re in Bucharest.

How to prepare for your flight to cope with the time zone change?

Preparing for a long flight can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to managing time zone changes and jet lag. However, there are some effective strategies you can adopt to improve your journey and adapt your body to the new time zone.

  1. Choosing the right chair can make a significant difference to your comfort. It’s important to consider the space you need to stretch and move easily. Avoid seats near toilets or the meal preparation area to enjoy a quiet flight.
  2. The second strategy is hydration. Adequate fluid intake before, during and after the flight can help relieve jet lag symptoms. It is advisable to avoid excessive consumption of alcohol and caffeinated beverages as these can lead to dehydration.
  3. Doing light exercises and stretches before and during the flight can help improve blood circulation and reduce muscle tension. You can include a tennis ball in your hand luggage for a relaxing in-flight massage.
  4. Comfortable clothing is also essential. It is recommended to wear loose, airy clothes and comfortable shoes. As cabin temperatures can vary, it is useful to have extra layers of clothing on hand. In this context, it is important to be aware of prohibited items on the plane. For example, certain items such as cutters or flammable substances are not allowed.

Strategies for reducing fatigue during flight

Strategies for reducing fatigue during flight

Sleep smart

Sleeping on the plane

Start by adjusting your sleep schedule before your flight, aligning it with the time zone of your destination. How can you do that? Simple. Try to go to bed and wake up according to the time of day you’ll be doing so in the location you’re travelling to. This will help your body gradually adapt to the time zone change.

During the flight, it is important to create an environment conducive to sleep. This can be achieved by using sleep aids such as earplugs, eye masks and neck pillows. At the same time, avoid taking sleeping pills as they can disrupt your natural sleep cycle. If you’re having trouble falling asleep on the plane, try listening to soothing sounds or use a white noise generator app to muffle cabin noise.

Entertainment and fun

During your flight, don’t forget to have fun and relax. You can take along various entertainment items such as books, films or music. Noise-cancelling headphones are useful for creating a quiet atmosphere. And if you’re a fan of puzzles, a portable puzzle book will keep your mind busy on the flight.

Move and stretch

Stay active during the flight. Do light exercises such as stretching or walking in the aisle to combat the negative effects of sitting for a long period of time. There are even airlines that offer videos of exercises you can do on board the aircraft. Deep breathing or meditation can help you relax and reduce anxiety.

How to adapt to the new time zone after landing?

If you’ve had a long flight, you’re most likely experiencing the well-known feeling of jet lag. You feel exhausted and disoriented, and your body doesn’t seem to be adjusting to the new time zone. You are not alone in this situation, but there are strategies you can use to ease this transition.

  1. Exposure to light. Natural light helps to reset the circadian rhythm, which is disrupted by time zone changes. Try to expose yourself to sunlight or bright artificial light during the day to help your body adjust to the new time zone.

  2. Taking melatonin supplements
    . Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycles, and taking it can help you adjust to the new time zone. However, it is important to consult a health professional before taking any supplement.

  3. Gradual adjustment of sleeping time
    and meals according to the local time at your destination a few days before departure. For example, if you’ve bought cheap flights at the ideal time, you have plenty of time to gradually change your sleeping and eating schedule.

  4. Diet
    . Nutrition plays a key role in the body’s adaptation to a new time zone. Avoid heavy meals and opt for light, nutritious meals to maintain energy levels and prevent feeling tired.

  5. Adequate rest
    . A good rest helps you cope with the time zone change. Try to create an environment conducive to sleep and establish a relaxing bedtime routine to improve sleep quality.

What to do if you can’t adapt to the new time zone?

Sleeping in the waiting room

The time zone change can be a challenge, and if you’ve struggled to adjust but still feel tired and disoriented, it may be time to take extra steps.

  1. Consult a doctor. They can prescribe medication to help you adjust more quickly to the new time zone.
  2. If you find it difficult to fall asleep at a reasonable time according to the new time zone, try to establish a sleep routine. This should include going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, according to the new time zone.
  3. Physical activities can also help in this situation. Exercise, especially exercise that involves exposure to natural light, can help reset the body’s internal clock. A walk or a run outdoors can do wonders.
  4. If you feel a persistent state of confusion or disorientation, consulting a psychologist may be a solution. It can give you strategies for managing the anxiety and stress associated with the time zone change.

With the right preparation and strategies, you can cope effectively with the time zone change and have a pleasant and productive trip.