Travel and Swimming Fast: Jet Lag



Traveling internationally can affect athletes in a number of ways. Not only can the conditions on long flights lead to exhaustion, but crossing multiple time zones leads to jet lag, the disturbance of your sleep/wake cycle caused by rapid change to a different schedule. 


Jet lag usually doesn’t happen unless you travel across three or more time zones. The symptoms are similar to general fatigue, with the addition of difficultly sleeping and greater feelings of disorientation. The more time zones you cross, the more severe the symptoms are likely to be. When you travel east, your body wants to stay up later. When you travel west, you get tired earlier in the day. Here are some suggestions to help you minimize jet lag and adjust quickly to local time when you arrive:

• Begin adjusting your schedule a few days before you depart. If you’re traveling east, go to bed one hour earlier each night for several days. If you’re flying west, go to bed an hour later. Try to eat meals close to the time you’ll be eating them at your destination
• Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drink the recommended 8oz per hour of flight.
• Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they cause dehydration and disrupt sleep.
• Remember to maintain good nutrition while traveling. Eat nutritious snacks you have brought on board when hungry, like sports bars.
• Periodically get up and move around the plane to promote blood flow.
• If it’s nighttime at your destination, try to sleep on the plane. If it’s daytime there, stay awake.
• Set your watch to local time and stay on the new schedule. Try not to go to sleep until local nighttime.

For more on travel preparation and beating jet lag check out the Global Travel Guide.

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