Traveling abroad and searching for the best and most effective ways on how to beat Jet Lag? No need to fear, here you can find tips on how to avoid jet lag written by a frequent traveler.
If you’re traveling for work, you want to be your best self as soon as you arrive at the destination. You need to be able to communicate perfectly and function properly. If you’re traveling for leisure, you want to use every minute to explore your destination. In both of these situations, switching time zones can definitely disrupt your plans.
Seriously, how can you stay focused when your eyelids are drooping down as if they have a will of their own?! Insomnia, irritability, and headaches won’t help either. Jet lag is not without its consequences. In fact, if it’s happening often, it can contribute to weight gain and even a bipolar disorder.
So, what can you do to beat jet lag and adjust to new time zones quickly? Read on to learn more.
Table of Contents (skip directly to the info you're looking for)
- 1 How to avoid jet lag before, during and after your trip
- 1.1 Get ahead of jet lag
- 1.2 Get in sync with the sun
- 1.3 Don’t take a nap as soon as you arrive
- 1.4 Use melatonin to help your body clock
- 1.5 Mind your eating
- 1.6 Be comfortable on and off the plane
- 1.7 Make it an active trip from the get-go
- 1.8 The evenings are for resting
- 1.9 Never to late for relaxation
- 1.10 Ease yourself into coming home
How to avoid jet lag before, during and after your trip
Get ahead of jet lag
The National Sleep Foundation suggests adjusting your sleep schedule three to five days before the flight. This means shifting your bedtime and awake time closer to the time zone of your destination.
Get in sync with the sun
One of the biggest problems when switching time zones is that your regular bedtime is no longer bedtime in the part of the world you’re visiting. Our internal clocks are linked with the solar day, so naturally, they’re influenced by the amount and the timing of daylight. This basically means that it is easier on your body to travel west across time zones because traveling west lengthens the days.
There is no way to prevent this impact on you, but you can try to catch up with the sun by experiencing daylight as soon as you arrive, and welcoming it every day as you wake up. Because of all this, it would be smarter to arrive at your destination during the day.
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Don’t take a nap as soon as you arrive
Something that always helps me to avoid jetlag is to stay awake after reaching the destination, especially if I arrive during the daytime. I try to go for a walk to get some fresh air and to explore a little of my surrounding areas. If I happen to arrive in the evening, then I try to avoid sleeping on the flight and upon arrival I either eat something light, if I am hungry but, most importantly, I drink lots of water and try to adjust by going to sleep at a reasonable hour.
Use melatonin to help your body clock
Melatonin is the hormone that notifies your body when it is time to go to sleep. As a natural supplement, it’s super useful for helping your sleep cycle adjust to changing time zones. Take a small amount of melatonin, between three to five milligrams, about half an hour before going to bed.
IMPORTANT: Make sure to minimize your exposure to glaring screens and bright lights before you lie down because melatonin reacts to bright light.
Mind your eating
It’s easy to get carried away with snacks during a flight, especially when that’s the only thing you’ll eat to avoid a full airplane meal. After all, you’re hungry, and there are plenty of interesting “treats” packed into the tiny boxes provided. However, these meals are usually high in quick carbohydrates, processed oils, and a bunch of additives. You can try to beat jet lag by avoiding unhealthy snacks, alcohol, and coffee on the plane. Instead, drink lots of water and bring a couple of healthy snacks with you (fruit, nuts, nutritional bar, etc.). When you land, you can sit in a restaurant and enjoy your breakfast in peace.
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Be comfortable on and off the plane
Being comfy on a long-haul flight is one of the key elements to feeling rested once you land and getting quickly adjusted to the new time zone. Keep in mind that it’s usually chilly on flights, often to the point that the complementary blanket isn’t enough, so pack a cardigan or a sweater in your carry-on. Stretchy cotton pants should provide you enough comfort throughout the night. Compression socks should help you with hours of sitting, but you should also put on a pair of reliable walking shoes that are soft and breathable. This way, you will be ready to stand on your feet as soon as you land.
Make it an active trip from the get-go
Now, this is where your walking shoes can really come in handy. If you start your vacation by taking a short, brisk walk or even a jog, you’ll immediately feel more energized and ready to take on the day. Later during the day, you can hit the gym and take this to another level. Do this when you’re feeling sleepy or in preparation of taking a nap. I know that exercise may be the last thing on your mind, but it’s a great way to combat jet lag. So, get moving!
The evenings are for resting
While you may want to experience the nightlife of the city you are visiting, you should consider taking it slow, at least for the first night or two. Before you go to sleep, dim the lights, and remove all digital distractions. Read a few pages of a book, listen to some relaxing music, try deep breathing exercises, stretching or a few yoga positions and, if you need them, use earplugs and an eye mask to create the best mood conducive for sleeping.
Never to late for relaxation
There are many things that you can try to ensure a relaxing state of mind. Some of the most common are meditation, bubble bath, soft music. I also enjoy traveling with scented oils and diffuser because I find aromatherapy extremely relaxing. You can also consider treating yourself to a massage at a local spa while you’re away. Anything to decompress!
Check out some of my in flight essentials
Ease yourself into coming home
As your adventure nears its end, you’ll need to revisit the initial process, only the other way around. Start adjusting your bedtime and awakening time to the one at home by setting your alarm clock 30 to 60 minutes earlier or later, two to four days before you head back (depends on the overall length of your trip).
Long-distance trips are exhausting as it is. Combine them with a different time zone and it’s a recipe for disaster. That is, unless you prepare in advance and use all of the tricks you’ve read above to beat jet lag. Have a great time and safe travels!