How to manage jet lag

Our new dive travel column begins by tackling a problem that affects many of us

By Fly& SeaA

Well, this is one way to avoid jet lag on your dive trip !. Photo: Russell Clark

We all know that jet lag can be tiresome, but on a scuba diving vacation it can be downright dangerous. Crossing one or more period zones in your quest for the perfect dive is guaranteed to leave you feeling out of kinds, and less than adequately rested upon arrival at your destination. And the further you travel, the stronger the symptoms youall have to contend with.

Jet lag, also known as Rapid Time Zone Change Syndrome, affects virtually everyone because it hurls our circadian rhythm out of sync. That reliable, internal system that tells us when itas time to wake, sleep, and feed is easily interrupted; especially when we travel rapidly to a place where waking and sleeping happen at different times than weare used to. The outcome is that we end up hungry, sleepy, and wakeful at all the wrong times.

BuildA inA aA buffer

While there are ways to help prevent and manage plane lag, experts still recommend not participating in any activity that requires you to be alert, immediately upon your arrival in a different time zone. And that includes donning your gear on the first day of a dive journey. Be smart, and scheme your vacation with some built-in recovery time. While plane lag can continue to affect you throughout the duration of your journey, the first 24 hours are generally the most challenging. Simply put, before you dive in, you should consider the grim fact that jet lag may affect your ability to dive safely.A

Modify your bedtime

So what can you do to minimize the effects of jet lag on your next diving vacation? In addition to building some recovery time into your itinerary, consider prepare ahead of time by gradually changing your bedtime at home, to what it will be at your destination. A good rule of thumb is to allow one day for each hour of adjustment it is required to stimulate; so if youare flying somewhere thatas six hours ahead, youall need almost a full week to alter your sleep schedule. Try to go to bed an hour earlier each night, and get up an hour earlier each morning. While this isnat always a realistic option for everyone, do keep in mind that every small adjustment you can induce now will help when you finally get where youare going.

SleepA onA theA plane

If your scuba diving vacation requires that you fly overnight, sleeping on the plane can help to offset some of the ailment effects of jet lag when you land. Snoozing during a flight can be challenging for a lot of people, but you can improve your chances of nodding off by avoiding alcohol and caffeine, and by use earplugs and a blindfold to minimize noise and light. Melatonin is a hormone thatas naturally secreted by the brain to help control the bodyas circadian rhythm. Itas available over the counter, and you might want to consider asking your pharmacist about the recommended dosage at bedtime, to help promote in-flight sleep.

Once you arrive

When you ultimately arrive at your dive journey destination, make use of the extra period youave permitted yourself to stay active during the daylight hours. Get out for a walking if the climate lets, or take advantage of the hotel pond or gym if it doesnat. Eat gently, drink lots of water, and be sure to wait until bedtime in your new place before you give in to sleep. No matter how seducing it may be to sleep at two in the afternoon – youall be much better off staying awake until your new bedtime.

Finally, there is no proof that Die Hard as bare feet plane lag remedy actually runs, so keep your shoes on John McClane. Above all, stay safe and dive smart-alecky! A

Fly& Sea are the resident DIVER magazine travel experts, you can learn more about them at

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