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How To Beat Jet Lag

Bizzy people spend entirely too much time on airplanes.  And I don’t know anyone that spends more time flying then my good friend and attorney Milt Stewart, and his wife Judi.  Milt and Judi seem to be constantly circling the earth for both business and pleasure, and they have really perfected the art of making the frequent pain of travel a little more bearable. Milt sent me the following tips (from Dubai of all places) on how to beat jet lag:

  1. Get a good night’s rest the night before you travel.
  2. Try to leave late afternoon/early evening so you are flying overnight.
  3. Wear comfortable, loose fitting clothes with long sleeves.  Take soft slippers or booties to wear on the plane instead of shoes.
  4. Pack a “sleep kit” with melatonin tablets (1 mg., OTC), Unisom OTC sleeping pills, a sleep mask, comfortable ear plugs and a neck pillow.  Unisom is a an antihistamine which makes you drowsy so you can sleep and leaves no drug hangover.
  5. If an upgrade to business class isn’t possible, try very hard for extra leg room coach seats, away from the galley.  If in coach, take an inflatable, 16” or so, beach ball to be used as a footrest.
  6. When you get to the airport or when you board your first flight, set your clock forward to the end destination time (or if you have an intermediate stop, to that time).  Then,  BELIEVE and LIVE that time!!!.   This is the most important thing to do!!!  You must shift the time mentally.  Eat, drink and sleep according to the new time (no caffeine until the new morning time).  Minimize alcohol and drink lots of water.  Staying hydrated is very important.
  7. When you board the plane, change into your comfortable footwear.  Eat dinner as early as possible.  At that time take two 1 mg. melatonin tablets (usually dissolved under the tongue) and ½ to 1 whole Unisom sleeping pill.  If you have 6-8 hrs. available to sleep, you can take ½ to 1 Ambien (Rx) if you prefer.
  8. After dinner is cleared, settle in with a book or the movie.  Have a pillow, blanket, and your sleep kit nearby.  After a half hour or so, put on your sleep kit things, recline your seat, put your feet up, pull the blanket up around you and give sleep a chance.  If you have noise cancellation headphones, put those on over your ear plugs to increase quiet.
  9. I generally sleep 5-6 hours – before this, I had never slept on airplanes. Judi, who can sleep anywhere, usually sleeps 6-7 hours.  I generally awaken first, often between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. destination time.  Our habit is to go to the restroom, wash up, shave (for men), brush teeth and make ready for the new day.  Have a cup of coffee to help set the waking cycle with caffeine.
  10. You will typically arrive mid day.  Try to stay busy until mid afternoon and then allow yourself a nap, NOT TO EXCEED 1 to 1 ½ hours.  If you go beyond that time your body will go into REM cycle – not good.  A brief nap allows you to sleep at a time you would be sleeping at home but only enough to refresh you.  After the nap, shower, dress and try to have an active late afternoon/evening.  Eat dinner and stay up until at least 10 pm or so.  At bedtime take two more melatonin tablets and another 1/2 Unisom sleeping pill.  We generally sleep a full 8 hours, waking up refreshed, not jet-lagged and ready to enjoy the day.  If we take a nap that day, we again limit it to 1 to 1 ½ hours, to avoid going into REM.
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