Jet-Lag Remedies

Page Updated: May 2020

Jet-lag remedies may be required to combat the feeling of disorientation that can occur when travelling quickly and landing in a country several time zones away from home.

It is usually worse when flying in a easterly direction. So hunters generally travelling south from Europe to Africa are usually unaffected but hunters from the US and the rest of the world might struggle with jet-lag.

Most hunters haven't got the time to spend slowly adjusting their 'body clocks' - they need to hit the African ground running, so here are a few tips on dealing with the effects of jet-lag.

Jet-Lag Symptoms

These may include some or all the things you don't need on an African hunt...

  • Fatigue & disturbed sleep - waking at odd hours when sleeping and fatigue when awake.
  • Headaches.
  • Muscle soreness.
  • Gastrointestinal upset.
  • General 'feeling unwell'.
  • Irritability and bad moods.
  • Inability to focus.

Simple Jet-Lag Remedies

There are a lot of weird and unproven anti-jet lag products on the market. Most of which will do nothing except separate you from your money, so if you are likely to be affected by jet lag these basic suggestions might help...

  • Trying to adjust to the new time zone before departure, by sleeping and waking later/earlier.
  • Also try to adjust your eating patterns before departure according to the time zone difference.
  • On board the aircraft... If it’s night-time at your destination try to sleep on the plane. Use earplugs, headphones and eye mask to help block out noise and light. If it’s daytime at your destination, resist the urge to sleep on the plane.
  • Mitigate the general air travel discomforts caused by cabin pressure, dry & dehydrating air and prolonged sitting by moving around and drinking plenty of water.
  • Minimise your onboard alcohol and caffeine intake also helps combat jet-lag.
  • When you arrive avoid taking naps when you feel tired - get out hunting in the fresh air and sunlight and try to stick to the new hours.
  • If you usually suffer quite badly, arriving a couple of days early before the hunt starts, may be a good idea.

Jet-Lag Pills

Some hunters swear their jet lag symptoms are helped by taking melatonin pills...

  • Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain that seems to regulate sleep in response to different lighting conditions. When it's dark, melatonin levels in your body rise to help you fall and stay asleep. As morning light appears, melatonin levels drop, which may rouse you from sleep.
  • There is a vast selection of melatonin products including tablets, liquids, gum drops, chewables, dissolvables, vegan, vegetarian, child-friendly flavours & doses, topical creams & sprays and in combination with other 'natural' health and sleep promotion botanicals.
  • The synthetic melatonin products in all forms as above may be branded as 'natural', but it is important to know that the true natural form of melatonin is made from the pineal gland of animals and is not recommended for use as a supplement.
  • Short term studies seem to point to melatonin being useful as a jet-lag remedy but there have been no studies on long term effects or interactions with other medications. Some scientists believe any positive effects from melatonin is most likely due to a placebo effect. As melatonin is a 'herbal supplement', it hasn't gone through vigorous scientific safety testing for use in humans, so these products are not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.
  • If you haven't taken melatonin before, ask your doctor about it and try it out before travelling, in case you have an adverse reaction.

Melatonin Pills For Jet Lag

  • Only needed for eastward travel.
  • Take 20-30 minutes before you want to sleep.
  • Take only the dose you need - melatonin doses commonly vary from 0.5mg to 5mg.
  • Small doses seem to be effective for reducing jet lag symptoms.
  • Higher doses may be better at promoting sleep.
  • Do not exceed recommended daily dose of the brand used.
  • Don’t take melatonin with other sedative medications or alcohol.

Sleeping Pills For Jet Lag

Some travellers just want to take a sleeping pill and crash out for the duration of a long flight but this does not necessarily prevent jet lag symptoms.

Sleeping pills (hypnotics & benzodiazepines) don’t help with the daytime symptoms of jet lag - they only induce sleep. Potential side effects may include headache, sleepwalking, confusion, nausea and morning sleepiness.

  • Make sure you have enough flying time to take a sleeping pill - at least six hours before arrival.
  • Don’t take sleeping pills with other sedatives, alcohol or melatonin.

Light Theraphy For Jet Lag

Research has shown exposure to light is a reliable method to reduce or even completely prevent jet lag. Light can also enhance your level of alertness, ability to perform certain tasks and also mood. However, to get the maximum benefit of light therapy for jet lag, you will need to start it before you travel. Depending on the number of eastward time zones you travelling through, you need to shift your sleep schedule by an hour earlier each day prior to travel. If you can't do this exactly, just do as much as you can.

Basically adapting to the new destination time zone is about avoiding light and getting light at the appropriate times.

If you want to try light therapy to minimise jet lag, choose a light box that is very bright - 10,000 lux or more. Anything dimmer is less effective at shifting the body clock. You may also want to use a light box on the aircraft and after arriving, so choose a small, compact and lightweight travel version.

This compact travel light provides the recommended 10,000 Lux brightness for effective light therapy to regulate sleep, prevent fatigue, boost mood and improve focus. The light is a pure-white colour, full-spectrum and free of unwanted UV rays It can be run with a USB cable or from a wall power outlet. It has a one-touch operation and 3 light level settings to customize the brightness. Buy Now

Long-Haul Flight Survival Measures

Flying these days, has become a mentally, emotionally and physically draining activity for most people. Flying longhaul is just prolonged misery especially if you are in steerage, so try the following measures to increase in-flight comfort.

  • Pre-booking the best seat you can get. Discounting the cabins up front, this would be an aisle seat and better still, a bulkhead aisle seat. However, bulkhead seats which have more leg room, seem to be mysteriously blocked off when you come to pre-book a seat, no matter how early you make your reservation.
  • Using your own headphones rather than airline issue - avoids squashed, sore ears and will give better sound quality.
  • Pre-hydrating before boarding because chances are the drinks service won't start until about an hour into the flight.
  • Bringing a variety of things to keep yourself amused if you don't plan on sleeping much or watching the movie.
  • Bringing your own small snacks.
  • Going for walks around the cabin when you get the chance.
  • On the way home, start writing your hunt journal/report.

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