Wednesday, July 21, 2010

You will be jet-lagged... but maybe not so much

When I returned from my holiday in Canada last September, my life basically fell apart. The first night I couldn't sleep until 3am, the next night 4am. This continued through the week until the horrible night I was still awake – exhausted, in tears, desperate, but awake – at 8am. It took weeks until I was right again. Going back in time was tough on my body, and when I went home at Christmas I vowed that I would be more careful in my approach to the time change. I am a big fan of melatonin, and when I visited a health food store in Toronto to get some the proprietor told me what I needed when dealing with jet-lag was a "time-release" version, one that would keep me asleep for seven hours. That's also where I picked up these pills:

You take them every 2 hours while in the sky. I have no idea why, but they seem to make a difference. You may be laughing and thinking "placebo!" But really, who cares why it makes you feel better. All that matters is that you feel better. When I returned at Christmas I tackled the time change and overnight journey back from Toronto to Abu Dhabi with military precision, and returned to work the very next morning after flying in - relatively okay. Same thing after my most recent trip home. Sure, I felt a little fuzzy, a little out of it, but nothing like the torture I experienced last summer. So since I am becoming a bit of a long-haul traveller, I thought I'd pass on some of my recommendations for things to do to get back to normal as quickly as possible:

-Stay up until at least midnight, no matter whether you are going or coming.
-Put yourself on the time of your destination when you get on the plane. (As I had a connection at Heathrow, I did this in London rather than Toronto. A 15-hour journey can get really confusing, and you don't want to miss any planes)
-Drink A TON of water. More water than you want or can imagine. Shell out in the airport – it's expensive but they never give you enough on the plane. Those tiny cups with the paper on top are a joke.
-Don't eat very much on the plane or in the airport. For some reason, this helps.
-If you are flying back to Abu Dhabi from North America and losing 8 or 9 hours try to sleep as little as possible, no matter how tired you get. After watching an entire season of Nurse Jackie, I finally gave in on the Toronto-Abu Dhabi leg and slept for 3 hours.
-If you are flying the other way, overnight, on flights that often leave at 2 am, get yourself really tired then take some aids to knock yourself out once in your seat. Two Gravols (a Canadian anti-nausea over-the-counter remedy) and a double Jack Daniels has worked. Panadol Night has also done the trick. You will also need an eye mask, ear plugs and a fluffy neck pillow. Sleep as much as possible.
-Eat before you get on the plane – don't even bother with the food. It's usually gross anyway.
-Take No-Jet-Lag throughout the trip as much as you can.
-Every night for a few days after landing, take time-release melatonin before you go to sleep. (But don't bring it in to Dubai, it seems to be illegal there)
-No other naps during the day!
-Try to exercise as soon as you can and keep it up.


rosh said...

After 10 years. I am jet lag FREE!

I think my body and mind created some sort of immunity. So now, every Christmas, I get up and attend Church and enjoy mom's Christmas breakfast. Yay! :)

Karl Smith said...

If you take a tiny piece of aeroplane, and crumble it in the shape of a big plane, will it get you there 1,000 times faster, too?

Ann Marie said...

Hardy har-har Karl.

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