1. Drink plenty of water. I’m not just talking about the little cups of water the attendants give you. Buy some water (preferably 2 bottles) once you pass the security checkpoint. Flying can dehydrate you, so drink up.
2. Speaking of drinking up, skip drinking any alcohol on the plane. You may think it will help you get rest, but it will not be a refreshing kind of rest.
3. Get up and stretch frequently. You can stand in the area in the back where the bathroom and attendants are. I’ve stood there and done leg stretches, and remarkably, no one looks at me like I have lost my mind. Stretching and walking around is great when you have ADHD and are feeling “plane (cabin) fever”. Also, moving around (and wearing compression socks) can reduce your chances of getting deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is rare but dangerous. Here’s more info on DVT: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_vein_thrombosis The Wikipedia article quotes a study that found that people who didn’t wear compression socks had a 10% higher rate of DVT than those who did wear the socks. You can get compression socks at any major retailer (in the sock section. Duh. I love it when I state the obvious.)
4. Get as much rest as you can. I know the on-board movies, games, etc. are lots of fun to watch – especially when you are ADHD…you want to see EVERYTHING. And on LAN, you can make your own playlist from the zillions of albums they have on there. Whooo hoooo!! But still, get some rest.
5. Speaking of rest – ask your doctor for a medication to help you sleep. And make sure you try this medication out at home BEFORE your flight. If you have a side effect, it’s better to have one at home rather than at 30,000 feet. Make sure you bring the pill bottle with the dosage and doctor’s name on it. The pharmacy can give you a smaller bottle so it fits better in your luggage.
6. Stick to your new time schedule as much as possible. If you get enough rest on the plane, you will be much more likely to stay away the next day after you land. Think of the plane as a “neutral time zone”. This is where you want to get your rest. When you get to your destination, walk around and get out in the daylight as much as possible. Sleep medication can also help you get on track with a new sleep schedule. And if you have to nap during the day, that’s fine – don’t fight it too much.
7. If you have a fear of flying, just think of the plane as a big bus. With wings. I know that the thing about planes being safer than cars may not be much of a consolation to you if you hate flying, but it’s true.
8. Turbulence is usually no worse than what you experience on a mild rollercoaster. Just roll with it. It’s happening anyway, so why fight it. Anxiety can prevent you from getting rest. If you have to throw up, you throw up. That’s what those little bags are for. Flight attendants have seen it all, and so have all of your fellow passengers.
9. Bring an iPod with a relaxation or self-hypnosis file. Also create a playlist of soothing or comforting songs. Then make a playlist of more peppy songs for when you land and have to stay awake.
10. Bring earplugs. The highest grade ones available. Use them. (Yes, I actually have to tell people to use them.) Also bring a sleep mask. The airline may or may not provide one for you, so bring your own.
11. Set your watch to the new time zone when you get on the plane. Stick with that schedule. However, if you take medication, stick with the time you would regularly take it. Check with your doctor about when to take your morning dose when you get to your destination.
12. You can get jet lag even if you are only changing a few time zones. A friend of mine told me this yesterday, and it’s true. It’s the fact that you are on a plane for a long period of time, not so much the change in time zones. And if you are ADHD, I find that changing time zones throws us for a loop even more than non-ADHDers.
13. If you start feeling slap-happy or exhausted, that is normal, and can be a side effect of jet lag. Ask my friend Lori about my talking red hoodie jacket/puppet. One of my finer comedic moments. It gives you good travel stories for later. Or in this case, I think it just gave Lori a headache.
14. Before you leave, get a clear 3-prong folder where you can put your itinerary, a copy of your passport, copies of the front and back of your credit cards, health insurance card, and driver’s license. Also include a list of alternate flights to your destination. You can find it on your airline’s website. Having all this info in one place can help reduce your level of stress and exhaustion, thus reducing your chances of jet lag.
15. Do carry-on as much as possible. Being able to get through passport control and customs and immediately out the door is priceless.