How to avoid jet lag is probably up there with how to avoid a hangover. If not avoided, jet lag can have a negative impact on any trip and can make anyone hate traveling altogether. Whether you’re traveling to another time zone with a 2 hour or 20 hour difference, these are my tips for how to avoid jet lag.
Leading up to your trip, be sure to maximize the hours/quality of sleep you need (and maybe even squeeze in a few extra hours if you’re someone that needs more sleep).
Red eye flights can prove to be a better use of travel time, IF you can get in quality sleep. However, when not prepared, a plane is probably one of the more difficult places to get quality sleep. To maximize the quality sleep you’re getting on a plane, pack sleep aids in your carry on such as a sleep mask, ear plugs, etc. Be sure to also take supplements that help with quality sleep (such as magnesium) or try some melatonin. Stick to your normal pre-bed routine, but in the air. For example, do you get off your phone and read for an hour before bed? Do that.
And of course, getting quality sleep also means avoiding anything that would prevent you from falling asleep easily (aka caffeine).
2: Limit Alcohol
It can be tempting to drink a lot before/during/after flights, especially if you’re flying international and have access to unlimited alcohol. If you’re someone who likes to have a drink or two on a flight, try and limit it to that. Mixing in alcohol (+ a hangover) while your body is trying to adjust to a new time zone is not going to do you any favors.
Stand and stretch at times throughout your flight to keep circulation going. It’s also a good way to make sure your body doesn’t arrive at your destination even more exhausted.
Hydration is important at all stages of your travels, especially since flying can result in your body becoming dehydrated. It’s also a way to make sure you stay as healthy as possible while traveling. Be sure to drink a lot of water on your flight, especially if you’re having a drink or two. Then when you arrive to your destination, try to drink a little more than your daily recommended ounces of water. A reusable water bottle is an easy way to make this happen.
Bonus: Incorporate electrolytes to really boost hydration.
5: Get On Local Time
If it’s afternoon local time when arriving at your destination but morning where you previously were, tell yourself it’s the afternoon. Follow the local routine, and stick with it until it’s a reasonable hour to go to sleep. Taking a nap might seem like a good idea, but avoid that until it’s time to sleep for the evening.
This also applies to meals. If you arrive at your destination and the next meal aligned with local time is breakfast, eat breakfast. Even if it’s dinner back home, skipping to the appropriate next meal will help your body adjust to the local time.
Getting a workout in is ideal if you’re arriving at a destination in the morning/during the day. Sweating it out will help stimulate your body and give you the energy you need until it’s time to go to sleep. If I can’t do a full workout, I love taking a walk around the city – I get in movement and get to see the city!
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