Whether you’re a seasoned globetrotter or a first-time traveler, it’s likely that you’ll experience jet lag at some point during your trip. Jet lag occurs when your circadian rhythm (body clock) is out of whack. Your body thinks it’s in a different time zone, when it’s physically somewhere else, which makes it confused, agitated, and a little silly. While there is no miracle cure or magic pill to completely avoid jet lag, there are a few simple steps you can take to minimize its effects. Read on to discover our top 5 ways to combat jet lag.
Be with the times
In the hours (or days if you want to be more prepared) before your flight, adjust your watch to the local time of your final destination and adjust your routine accordingly. While it may seem strange to eat breakfast before dinner or go to sleep before you’re tired, your brain will begin to recognize that it’s time to adjust to a different cycle. Not only will this help stimulate sleep, but it will also ensure that you arrive at your destination refreshed and ready to explore.
Do not be afraid of the Dark
Once you’ve set your watch to your new destination, it’s time to start resetting your internal body clock. Blocking light is a great way to combat jet lag because darkness promotes sleep. When your brain detects darkness, it begins to produce melatonin, the natural chemical that triggers sleep. So if your destination is several hours in advance, we recommend wearing sunglasses until you’re ready to take a nap, then using an eye mask to completely block out the light. Noise-canceling headphones are also a great option, as are earplugs and a comfortable pillow for uninterrupted sleep.
Recreate your nighttime routine
We understand that tiny seats, screaming babies, turbulence and annoying announcements make it difficult to sleep on planes, especially if you’re stuck in the dreaded middle seat in a constant battle for the armrest. If you have trouble sleeping on planes and an eye mask isn’t enough, try to recreate as much of your regular nighttime routine as possible. If that means wearing comfy pajamas and fuzzy socks, writing in your journal, or applying a face mask and skin mist, then go for it! You might get a few funny looks from other passengers, but if it can help you sleep and reduce jet lag, then who cares?!
Stay hydrated and stop drinking alcohol
As tempting as it may be to indulge in unlimited free booze, alcohol can actually increase your risk of jet lag (and a nasty hangover). Alcohol becomes more potent at high altitudes and dehydrates the body much more quickly. Although alcohol can speed up sleep, it will significantly reduce sleep quality and make the body more restless. If you want to have a drink, we recommend doing so in the morning or early afternoon and drinking 3 times more water than alcohol.
Seek fresh air and sunshine
Once you arrive at your new destination, it is important to continue adjusting your body to the local time zone. Unless you’re landing late at night and can head straight to your hotel, we recommend getting some fresh air and sunshine to help adjust your body clock. While it may be tempting to dive straight into that cozy hotel bed as soon as you arrive, you risk waking up at 3 a.m. and completely ruining your sleep schedule for the days to come. Instead, try to overcome fatigue and walk around the neighborhood, visit the sights and enjoy the new environment. Fresh air and natural light are ideal for resetting your internal body clock and you’ll be able to sleep easier after dark.
Do you have any tips for combating jet lag? Let us know in the comments below!