Most experts state that it takes one day per crossed time zone to stop feeling the effects of jet lag. But if you’re flying to the other side of the world, you don’t have two weeks to adjust. Don’t worry, these six tips to combat jet lag can help.
In general, the effects of jet lag seem to be worse when you fly east instead of west. If you fly across the Pacific that means jet lag will probably hit you harder when you fly back home. But if you cross the Atlantic to visit Europe, jet lag will be worse when you land in Europe instead of your return trip.
While you should follow these tips for both legs of your journey, make sure you do everything possible to combat jet lag on your eastbound flight.
Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine
Water is the jet fuel for your body, especially when you fly long-distance. Caffeine and alcohol both dehydrate you. You may find yourself drinking more water later in the trip to “catch up.” As with anything in life, you need to follow the mantra of doing everything in moderation.
Will one cup of coffee or one glass of wine put you over the edge? Most likely not. But living at the bar during your layover or not drinking any water during your travel will worsen the jet lag effects.
You might even consider buying extra water in the terminal to bring onboard. While the flight attendants do their best with in-flight service, you still don’t get to drink as much as you probably should.
Get a Good Night’s Rest
Don’t wait to pack your bag and clean the house at the last hour when you should be sleeping instead. Getting a good night of sleep before you fly is essential. It can be just as important as making sure you remain properly hydrated. You shouldn’t sacrifice sleep.
Let’s face it, sleeping on a plane isn’t the same as sleeping in an actual bed. You should try to sleep and rest during your flight so you’re not completely exhausted when you arrive. If possible, try to nap when it’s the evening hours at your destination.
You can also take it a step further and avoid sleeping pills and natural remedies like melatonin. These pills can make you feel groggy and situationally unaware. Some people even experience nightmares by taking sleeping pills.
Eat Whole Foods
When you want to combat jet lag, avoid sugary snacks and junk foods that are convenient but lack vital nutrients that provide energy. Before you fly and on your travel days, eat a well-balanced diet of protein, fruits, and vegetables. These foods are nutrient-dense so you will feel more full and won’t have that constant craving to snack.
Some of the foods you might consider eating include:
- Dried Nuts
- Grilled Chicken
- Low-Sodium Foods
While you’re probably not going to feel like running a marathon when you land, physical activity is another remedy. Some examples of being physically active while traveling include:
- Perform Stretching Exercises in Your Seat
- Walking the Aisle
- In the Airport, Walking Between Airport Terminals
- Take a Walk Outside Once You Arrive
You have plenty of time to sit in your seat while you’re in the air. Take advantage of the opportunities to stretch your legs and walk whenever possible. Your daily routine is probably not as sedentary as when you fly, so physical activity in the terminal or on the plane helps you maintain your routine as much as possible.
Schedule Your Flight to Land in Late Afternoon or Early Evening
When possible, schedule your flight to land in the late afternoon or early evening hours. There are two advantages to doing this:
- A night’s sleep is only a few hours away when you arrive in the early evening
- Landing in the morning forces you to be awake for two full days without a full night of sleep
Before burrowing into the hotel for the night, take time to enjoy the fresh air. Whether it’s going out for dinner or taking a walk down the block, get some fresh air and take in any remaining sunlight. Although it’s okay to go to bed early your first night, try to stay awake until your normal bedtime. You don’t want to wake up at 3 or 4 a.m. local time and then be exhausted for your first full day.
Don’t be afraid to go back to the hotel to take a brief nap either. Mid-day naps still make it possible to maintain your regular evening sleep routine.
Enjoy the Sun
Besides drinking plenty of water and eating nutrient-dense foods, enjoying the sunlight in the days after you arrive is important too. Sunlight, especially morning sunlight, gives you an extra boost of energy that helps you fight the desire to sleep the day away.
If you must remain indoors, keep the room lights on to prevent you from falling asleep and ruining your sleep cycle. When taking a mid-day nap, set an alarm and make it a point to seek outdoor physical activity or visiting the on-site workout room when you wake up.
For those early morning arrivals, you may not feel like staying all day in the sun. This is especially true if you just stepped off a transcontinental flight and didn’t get much rest on the plane. You might have no choice but to be active until you can check into your hotel in mid-afternoon.
Until you can check-in and take a nap, seek low-intensity activities. Maybe you can enjoy a meal outdoors, drink a cup of coffee or herbal tea, and take your time to sit and relax when you need a break from walking. Use this time to map a basic layout of your destination so you know where to explore when you’re more energetic.
Jet lag is unavoidable but that doesn’t mean you can’t lessen the effects. The best battle plan to combat jet lag is to pursue a proper diet, rest, and physical activity in the days leading up to your flight and after you land.
More Info: forbes.com