“Jetlag: (n) Extreme exhaustion and other physical effects felt by a person after a long flight across several time zones.”–Unknown
Jet lag can make a grown man cry. Jet lag can make anyone feel like a 90-year-old with a migraine. Jet lag is the worst thing about traveling. Let’s face it most of us chug our own weight in coffee before, during and after a long haul flight and land in a state of half asleep half over-caffeinated delirium and realized all of your devices and watches say a different time, which only adds to the confusion. All you want to do is sleep and once you get in bed you sleep for such a long time you aren’t sure whether you just took a coma instead of a nap or if you fell into a wormhole and are now in an alternate universe. On the other end of the spectrum, you are one of those people who are so tired that you can’t fall asleep and perfect the art of tossing and turning for hours until the sun comes up. Jet lag makes you hungry at awkward times of the day and you have no idea which meal you should be eating. We’ve all been there and we feel your tortured pain.
What can we do about it? Unfortunately not much, but after traveling to over 22 countries and experiencing all of the above I’ve found some great and really easy ways to make sure you don’t get jet lag.
1. Come To The Airport Well Rested
Some people think that coming to the airport sleepy will make falling asleep on a plane much less difficult. However, throwing off your sleep schedule before you need to can make jet lag worse. Being prepared and coming well rested will make the experience smoother and less stressful.
2. Avoid Coffee/Caffeine
Caffeine can make you wake up more often than normal therefore disrupting your sleep more often. It may also make it harder to fall asleep if you still have caffeine running through your body doing its best to keep you awake.
3. Book Overnight Flights/Arrive in Daylight
When you’re traveling through multiple time zones a good way to acclimate is to sleep through your overnight flight and arrive at your destination during the day. This will help your body adjust to the local time since the body naturally wants to be awake during the day. Plus a good night’s sleep will make you feel rested and less exhausted after a long flight.
4. Adjust Your Internal Clock
If you’re flying through many tie zones, or even one, try to gradually shift your schedule closer to your destination’s time zone. If you’re going somewhere that is four hours ahead of you. Try to rearrange your eating and sleeping schedules to coincide with your destination’s local time to make the adjustment less of a shock.
5. Stay Hydrated
Being dehydrated on a flight can mean headaches and possibly other health concerns. The air in the cabins is purposeful dry so make sure to drink water even if you aren’t thirsty.
6. Avoid or Limit In-Flight Alcohol
Remember that altitude can have a massive effect on medications and alcohol. One drink one a flight usually equals 2-3 on the ground. Not only do you not want to be drunk on a short or long flight, but you risk more dehydration as well as a hangover.
7. Sleep As Much As Possible
Getting more sleep while you travel is the best thing you can do for yourself. Not only does it break up the boredom and make the flights go by faster, but you will feel more alert and potentially keep the jet lag at bay for a few hours longer.
8. Go Outside As Soon As You Can
Getting out in the sun and enjoying your destination will increase your melatonin and endorphins which will naturally help keep you awake and adjusting to local time. Many people go straight to their hotel rooms and sit down. Try and avoid this. Go drop off your bags, maybe have a quick shower and then head straight out for a light day to get accustomed to the time change.
9. Don’t Go To Sleep Early
I know you’re tired. I know all you want to do is go to sleep early, but try and resist. Try to stay up until an hour or two after dinner or around the time you would normally go to sleep. This can help you really adjust to local time and you are less likely to wake up extremely early instead of your normal time.
10. Add A Stopover
Some people get jet lag worse than others. If you suffer more extreme jet lag than most people try adding a stopover in a time zone that is about halfway to your destination. This will shock your body less and give you more time to adjust to a new schedule. Not only will you feel better, but you get to see more new and exciting places!
11. Keep Moving
Try and walk up and down the aisle of the plane or walk around while you’re at the airport. Getting your blood flowing has so many health benefits such as preventing clots from forming during long flights, but it can also keep you from experiencing the worst of jet lag by working out some kinks you’ve gotten from carrying luggage and sitting for long amounts of time, plus endorphins will give your mood a boost.
12. Eat Well And When The Locals Do
Don’t drastically change your diet the week before you are planning to fly, but try to opt for healthier meals. This can prevent indigestion because let’s face it no one wants to do the doo on an airplane. Eating well can also boost your immune system and make you less susceptible to illness and help you sleep better.
13. Use Sleeping Pills Wisely
Always consult your doctor about sleeping pills and flying. Altitude can have odd effects on medication due to how altitude changes how medication interacts with our bodies. Make sure you adjust your dosage or skip them altogether.
14. Save Up For Business Class
It costs more and I know it might not be feasible for everyone. I’ve done this once and I’ve never felt better after a flight. Being able to recline more than a 1/8th of an inch does wonders for being able to sleep well or at all. Try saving up miles through your credit card or doing surveys (I do both) to help with the higher costs because it makes a world of difference.
15. Bring A Pillow
Whether it’s a neck pillow or your favorite pillow from home make sure you have one. Nothing is worse than realizing you woke up/drooled on a stranger or that you have to crane your neck to unnatural positions just to find a place to put your head. Having a soft place to sleep can do wonders for staying asleep and waking up rested versus sore and exhausted.
16. Go Easy Your First Day
You might feel well rested, but as a rule of thumb it takes about a day per time zone you cross to recover from jet lag and this gets worse with age. Try to plan something easy your first day or two. If you have a 12-hour flight and want to climb Everest you might want to re-think your plans and give your body time to adjust.
Have you tried any of these tips? Did I miss your favorite trick to beating jet lag? Comment below! I would love to hear from you!