How to Avoid Jetlag when Traveling to USA

An analysis of 20 years of Major League Baseball statistics, from 1992 to 2011, which included 40,000 games and 4,919 instances in which a team crossed two or three time zones, it was found that jet lag did affect players’ performance on the field, according to an article published by The Washington Post in January 2017. Many players, mostly base-runners and pitchers, performed worse on average when jet-lagged.

When you travel to another country, halfway across like the world, like many parents do from India to meet their children in America, you actually travel across multiple time zones. While the idea of traveling across time zones might seem enthralling, it does have an impact on the traveller, with many experiencing a sleep disorder that we usually call jet lag. This problem is more apparent with age, and I had an opportunity to see its effects first hand when my parents visited me in the US last year.

Their sleep-wake patterns were severely disturbed, given that their mind and body had not had time to adjust to the time changes. They ended up feeling tired, drowsy, lethargic and irritable for the first couple of days. It became hard for them to focus on any activity during this time.

If you do not want your folks to undergo a similar experience, here are five tips you can forward to them to help them avoid jetlag the next time they travel across time zones.

5 Ways to Avoid Jetlag

Here are some methods you can use to avoid jetlag.

  1. Prepare your Internal Clock:
    Let your parents know that India is 10 hours and 30 minutes ahead of Washington, DC, USA. Ask them to shift their eating and sleeping patterns to match the timings in the US for a few days before the flight. This will help them to easily adapt once they reach the US.
  2. Avoid Caffeine:
    Caffeine is usually a solution when one wants to stay awake for longer. It also makes the person wake more often, while reducing their sleep time. Intake of caffeine should be stopped 12-14 hours prior to the flight or it could severely disturb sleeping patterns and the effects of jet lag could appear more severe. Coffee is thus strongly recommended to be avoided before the flight.
  3. Keep Drinking Water:
    Even on normal days, doctors recommend that we drink at least 8 ounces of water for every hour we are awake to keep the body functioning smoothly. However, drinking enough water becomes even more important when you are in the air. It helps seniors get good sleep during the flight, reducing the chances of jet lag.
  4. Take a Nap on the Flight:
    Ask your parents to take a nap whenever they feel sleepy to keep their body well rested when they arrive in the US. However, if they want to sleep for longer, the nap should be of such duration that it does not disrupt the sleep time when in the US time zone.
  5. Sleep Only on US Early Local Bedtime:
    On arriving in the US, your parents might be tempted to rest a while after having travelled for so long. However, for them to avoid the effects of jet lag, they need to force their body to transition to the local time.

These are some of the many ways your parents can avoid the negative effects of jetlag and make their stay in the US more pleasurable.

Any journey 24+ hours is a drag. Hope these tips will help them.

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Mani Karthik

About the Author

Mani Karthik

Ex “NRI” and Founder of the “Back to India” movement. I share my experience about immigrating to USA here.

  1. Aparna Goud Sirisanagandla

    Very helpful tips for parents traveling to US from india

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