9 Ways to Beat Jet Lag
Ah, the long haul traveler’s worst nightmare. Or at least close to worst. Jet lag is a plague everyone crossing time zones has to deal with. Our latest trip from the West to the East Coast of the Unites States reminded us that even a few hours difference can throw you off for days. Not to mention flying across the world and being thrown 12 hours into the future. You’re hungry in the middle of the night, you can’t sleep or you sleep all day, you’re disoriented and maybe grumpy. That’s jet lag! Luckily we are not defenseless. Here are 9 ways to beat jet lag so you can get on with your trip and enjoy your destination.
How to Beat Jet Lag
- Exercise the morning before your flight and then exercise at the same time in your destination every day to serve as a reference point for your internal clock. This will considerably lessen the time it takes to get adjusted to your new time zone.
- Get a massage. Schedule your spa day at the beginning of your trip so it helps detox and relax your body. Some treatments even treat jet lag specifically, so check the spa menu at your hotel or look for a reputable spa nearby.
- A day before your flight, start adjusting your mealtimes closer to when you will eat at your destination. You can also skip a meal while in transit. Pass up the in-flight dinner if you just ate dinner before taking off, for example.
- Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeine on the flight, every time they offer wine or coffee opt for a bottle of water instead. It is extremely important to stay hydrated. You may be tempted to enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail to help you fall asleep, but you’re really just dehydrating yourself and your sleep will not be as restful. Avoid alcohol for a couple days after you land as well.
- Walk around during the flight and wear compression socks. We try to walk around and stretch at least every other hour during our flights to keep our blood flowing and decrease the chance of aches the next day. If you happen to be on an A380, walk up and down the stairs between decks, this allows for more range of motion. Walking around also helps avoid a more serious, but rare, problem: blood clots. According to this article from NPR, 1 in 4,500 airline passengers will develop this kind of blood clot. Make stretching your legs a priority even if you start to make the person in the aisle seat grumpy.
- Take a hot bath or shower before bedtime at your destination. This will help you wind down and relax for sleep.
- Use Lavender essential oil. I started using lavender oil a few months ago and now I use it every night to help me relax and fall asleep. On the plane, dab a few drops across the bridge of your nose. Lavender essential oil is proven to help you relax and is a natural sleep aid. For your first few nights (or every night!) put a drop or two on your hotel pillow.
- Schedule your flights to arrive in the late morning at your destination and stay awake all day. Fight the temptation to nap. The last time we flew from D.C. to Bangkok, we got in early in the morning and took a nap that afternoon. We way overslept, couldn’t sleep that night as a result, and were exhausted for days. Don’t do that to yourself!
- The best remedy for jet lag is time, just like a bad hangover. If you can, try to add an extra day on to the beginning of your trip where you can relax and adjust to the new time zone. At the very least, plan calmer activities for your first day. Sometimes after 20+ hours of travel all we want to do is rest in a cool shady place.
There’s no way around it – jet lag happens! Do you have a secret remedy?