I like to use the term “Flight Management.” Jumping on a long-distance flight without thinking about how it may affect your body and mind isn’t a wise thing to do. Flight Management is like Time Management. You want to think ahead about what you will do with it, to optimize your time and the outcome.
The Four Keys to Optimal Flight Management:
Setting your watch and mind to your destinations’ time zone as soon as you board the plane is essential. You now must accept this as your current time zone and trick your body and mind into believing this.
Next, you must behave according to your new time zone. In other words, if it’s 2 am at your departure city, and 2 pm at your destination, you are not going to have dinner and go to sleep, as if it were bedtime. Therefore, the goal is to stay awake as long as you can, until it’s a reasonable hour to go to sleep at your destination, let’s say between 6 pm to 8 pm.
On my recent 15-hour flight from New York to Hong Kong, I ran the experiment. Take off was at 2 am local time, 2 pm destination time. I had to stay busy for a good six hours, which is not easy when it’s 2 am, according to your body clock.
Fellow passengers were off to sleep within an hour. It doesn’t help of course that the airlines manage these flights incorrectly, and encourage passengers to go to sleep ASAP, by turning off the lights, and raising the temperature, so passengers become “sleepy.”
After watching two and a half movies, reading a newspaper, enjoying some decent food, and a couple of glasses of wine, it’s time for me to get some sleep, six hours into the flight. At this point, I notice that the majority of the passengers are awake again, watching movies and chatting away. They are stuck in New York time!
These folks have nine more hours of grueling flight time ahead. This duration will wear them out physically and mentally by the time they arrive. Upon arrival, it will be night time for their body clocks, but early morning in Hong Kong.
Then they face reality; it’s bright and early, with the whole day ahead! That’s when exhaustion kicks in, which is called “Jet-Lag.” Following this poor flight management, it will take most folks around two to three days to adjust to their new time zone.
Meanwhile, I slept for a decent six hours straight, waking up with another three hours left to go. I freshen up, drink lots of water, some coffee, and feel great, spending the next hours writing and reading. I arrived at my destination, feeling quite normal and adjusted to the local time.
Getting a good six hours or more of sleep if you can is essential, as we need to rest our brain and body. Staying up throughout the entire flight is a bad idea, as you are wearing yourself down in every aspect. Your mind will view this as an abnormal and stressful event. Your thoughts will become cloudy, and your judgment poor. Your immune system will weaken, and you will be much more susceptible to getting sick, plus you will feel like hell all day long.
Getting a decent amount of sleep during the long flight is critical, no matter at what time; however, adjusting your sleep cycle to the “correct time” from the get-go, is the magic trick.
It’s common knowledge that inadequate hydration is detrimental to your health, which is why we must drink at least ten glasses of water per day. When I fly long distances, as a rule of thumb, I double that intake throughout the flight. Airplane cabins are very dry due to air pressure and temperature control. This dry air and lack of moisture dry out our body and skin much faster than on the ground. That’s why you need to upregulate your water consumption, to stay hydrated. This means frequent bathroom trips, which can be annoying, but also brings another benefit, movement!
Planes are cramped, seats are small (especially in economy), and this can make getting a great deal of movement in seeming too daunting. During any regular day, we need to keep to a good general movement pattern to stay healthy and fit. My minimal daily movement is fast-paced walking of around 12000 steps. Most travelers, however, once on a plane, go into the vegetable mode and sit in their seats for the full 15-hour flight.
Following my Flight Management plan, you should get up at least once an hour for ten minutes, walk around, do some squats in the back of the plane and stretch. If you follow this plan, your body and mind will remain sharp, and in tune, whereas if you do nothing, you are setting yourself up for a few bad days to follow, as your body will become stiff and feel off balance. So, let’s keep moving, even during a 15-hour flight!
Next time you fly long distances, I hope you give my Flight Management plan and
Thanks for reading.
Former Olympic Athlete & Certified Health Coach.
“I want to show people how to lose weight effectively, how to build a healthy, strong heart, a strong body, and mind supporting a longer life. I do this by showing how you should eat in the most natural way and by teaching you my natural fitness and movement methods. I’ll be talking and writing about how you can achieve your best possible health no matter what age, as my absolute passion today is to help as many people in the world regain health!”