Whether you’re flying internationally for the first time, or are a seasoned traveler looking for a bit of relief, we’ve got 7 helpful tips below on how to beat jet lag.
JET LAG – WHAT TO EXPECT
So, what is jet lag? Merriam-Webster defines it as “a condition characterized by various psychological and physiological effects (as fatigue and irritability), occurs following long flight through several time zones…”
As someone who has hopped time zones more often than I can count, I can tell you jet lag effects everyone differently. You may feel really tired the first day, which is understandable after not getting sleep on an overnight flight. But it can also sneak up on you a few days into your trip, such as being wide awake in the middle of the night because your body thinks it’s the afternoon.
Personally, I describe jet lag as feeling a little hung over. But don’t fret, you can usually get over the effects of jet lag within 24-48 hours. Here’s how …
DURING YOUR FLIGHT
1 – Hydrate!
I know it may be tempting to have a glass of wine with your in-flight meal, but I’d encourage you to choose water instead. Often times, headache and fatigue is mostly a symptom of dehydration that just exaggerates the feeling of jet lag even more. If you’re in a window seat, I know it feels annoying to keep asking your seat mate to get up so you can go to the toilet. And, let’s face it, airplane bathrooms are gross. But the extra alertness and energy you’ll feel from being well hydrated will more than make up for those extra trips to the bathroom.
2 – Wear An Eye Mask
The goal on any overnight flight is not necessarily to sleep, but to rest. It’s difficult to get a full 6-8 hours of sleep on a plane, even in business class! Believe me, I’ve flown in economy, business, and first class — and you get jet lag no matter the size of your seat. So, don’t beat yourself up or stress out if you can’t fall asleep. By wearing an eye mask, you’re getting your body used to darkness at a different time, which will help adjust your circadian rhythm and get into a new sleep pattern for your destination.
3 – Compression Socks
Whenever I have a long-haul flight, I always wear compression socks. They may not be the most fashionable piece of clothing, but they do wonders for your comfort. Compression socks help increase circulation and reduce swelling when you’re sitting for an extended period of time … like on a flight.
4 – Make A Comfort Kit
Pack your own little comfort kit to make flying more enjoyable. Some of the things I include in my own comfort kit include eye drops, travel toothbrush and mini toothpaste, my own eye mask, and a few individually wrapped bags of my favorite teas. Also, since our home base is in Florida and I’m used to higher humidity, I bring a hydrating facial spray that I spritz on during the flight. Between the facial spray and the hot cups of tea, it helps me breath easier in that dry cabin air.
Read This: 3 Simple Ways To Survive A Long Flight
AT YOUR DESTINATION
5 – Pain Reliever
Once you’ve arrived at your destination, you can continue to beat jet lag by being prepared with your favorite pain reliever or headache medicine. Like I mentioned above, jet lag can sometimes feel like a hangover. And if you’re a coffee drinker like I am, sometimes a lack-of-caffiene headache will sneak up on you if you’ve not had a cup of coffee at your usual time. If you’ve got a business meeting or a planned tour, be sure to stash some headache medicine in your bag or pocket so you can take it when you need it and save yourself the trouble and time of looking for a local pharmacy.
6 – Vitamin Supplement
This one thing is my secret jet lag weapon – a Vitamin B-Complex. Since it’s hard to eat a balanced diet on-the-go, I always take a Vitamin B-Complex (all the B’s) supplement with me. According to WebMD, Vitamin B12 helps convert food into energy, B3 has show to increase REM sleep, and B6 helps increase serotonin which has a calming effect.
7 – Adjust Your Bedtime
Adjusting your bedtime on the first day in your destination is probably the hardest part. You’ll be so tempted to fall into bed early. A quick twenty minute power nap is okay, but anything longer and you might have a hard time going to sleep in your new time zone. I’ll usually grab a shower instead of a nap, brew a cup of coffee or order it via room service, and that alone makes me feel refreshed enough to stay awake until 10pm.
JETLAG BACK AT HOME
Once you’re back home, you may think that the exhaustion you feel after a long trip is enough to make you sleep for 10 hours and totally skip the effects of going through jet leg a second time. But now that you may be acclimated to your destination’s time zone, your wake/sleep cycle has been disrupted again! You might feel some of the same effects (fatigue, headaches, grogginess), but you can implement the same steps above and feel like your old self again in no time.
Have any of your own special tips for beating jet lag? Let us know in the comments!