Unless you happen to live right next door to paradise, chances are you need to fly to dive — at least some of the time. Aside from being stressful and dehydrating, air travel often means crossing time zones, which can leave you with a case of jet lag — and the insomnia, exhaustion, headache and general malaise that comes with it.
Scientifically known as desynchronosis, jet lag is a simple matter of Circadian-rhythm disruption. Your body is accustomed to one schedule and you toss it a biological monkey wrench by switching time zones. Your internal clock says it's midafternoon, yet the sun is setting on the horizon. Conventional wisdom says jet lag can linger until your body makes the switch to the new time zone, with a recovery rate of one day per time zone crossed. But smart travel strategies can have you feeling fresher faster — and maybe even prevent it in the first place.
1. Catch Your Zzzs. Prevention is the best medicine: "Sleep is your best defense," says scuba diving doctor Lewis Kohl, M.D., chairman of emergency medicine at Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Sleep on the plane, if you can (a drowse-inducing decongestant can help you relax and clear your sinuses to boot). "If possible, plan your trip to arrive at your destination close to bedtime," he says. Research shows flying at night exacerbates jet lag.
2. Drink Up. Hydration is key to preventing many dive dampening woes and will help you maintain normal energy levels and avoid headaches.
3. Eat on schedule. Maintaining a consistent fueling schedule can help ease the adjustment, according to a report issued by British Airways. So snack as needed to have a comfortable journey and eat on schedule at your destination’s time when you arrive.
4. Exercise. Numerous studies show that physical activity can help reset your body’s Circadian rhythms. Go for a walk or jog, preferably in the bright sunlight (which will also help reset your clock) at your usual exercise time if you have one. Or go out in the late afternoon or early evening to help you unwind and get back on track.