What day is it? What time zone are we in? These are just a few of the questions I've asked myself when stepping off a plane in a new location. Many people fly for work...but have you ever thought of what singers go through? Imagine you have flown through several time zones, your mind is foggy, you are exhausted, you feel stiff and you just want to go to bed, but instead you are stepping off that plane, meeting the musical staff, and often have to go straight into rehearsals or a concert. (And in most cases, singers aren't rich enough to fly in the comfort of first class). You may say, "I do that all the time for my job," but think about this: When you get really tired the pitch of your speaking/singing voice drops into a lower range. Not a problem for the average business flyer. However, the stress of flying, mixed with the lower vocal range, and dry sinus feeling you get, adds to the anxiety of a singer, who's entire paycheck and career depends on being able to rehearse and perform beautifully while suffering from jet lag, and hopefully not sick or dealing with altitude on top of it all.
I lived in Beijing, China for just over a year, and found myself flying back and forth to the US (14-18+ hour flight) every 3-4 weeks, which meant I was almost constantly in a state of JET LAG. It's a horrible feeling.
As a professional singer, I am always striving for an easy adjustment when flying, and have discovered a few tips that could help everyone.
Jet lag basics:
-Avoid alcohol and caffeine before bedtime
-Avoid heavy, rich foods when you first arrive at your destination
-STAY HYDRATED! Drink tons of water on the plane and even consider drinking coconut water or water with electrolytes, as it helps to hydrate your body. You can also bring fruit or melons to eat on the plane, as they are mainly made up of water, and will further hydrate you. Coconut water is another great choice to stay hydrated.
-Get out in the sun after you arrive to your destination. The sun helps to reset your inner clock.
-Don't forget ear plugs and an eye mask for the plane, so you can attempt to sleep. (Also helps with noisy hotels). White noise apps are also an option, as block out the external sounds.
-Travel with items that help relax you into your bedtime routine-slippers, pillow, essential oils, etc. (It helps to remind your body it's time to sleep).
-Traveling east is usually more difficult that traveling west--nap if you can when you arrive, but force yourself out of bed after an hour, or it will take you FOREVER to adjust to the new time zone.
CURES for jet lag:
Check into taking "No jet lag" or "Jet zone" tablets. These are chamomile based products. You take one pill when you take off, and one every few hours on the plane. When you land, take it again, and take it as needed after that. Helps you get over that fuzzy headed feeling temporarily.
If you normally have sleeping issues, you might want to try taking a low dose of melatonin. I have found the sublingual one works great. Take one pill about 30 min before bedtime at your destination and it helps you fall asleep and stay asleep.
For flights over 4 hours, I take this magical cure, and no longer have jet lag:
200 mg of L-theanine (a relaxing amino acid that promotes relaxation without sedation), and one pill of Integrative Therapeutics brand Cortisol Manager (relaxes and supports improved sleep). If on a long flight and I want to sleep, I set my clock to the destination time, and take this combo about 30 min before I want to fall asleep. I can usually sleep several hours on the plane now, without the drowsy, drugged feeling. I take it again at bedtime after I land, and continue to take it nightly until I feel I no longer need it. It's a magical combination for me, as allows me to sleep through the night, and wake feeling refreshed, like I had the best night's sleep of my life.
I hope this helps anyone suffering from jet lag. I'm not a doctor, but this is what has worked for me, without the side effects of drugs.