[dropcap size=small]J[/dropcap]et lag: the wet blanket putting a damper on your epic vacation since the invention of planes. While there is no real way to catch up on lost sleep – literally, it’s impossible to regain lost REM time – I’ve compiled a list of tips to make jet lag easier each time you travel.
Before you depart:
The sleep drug, and an insomniac’s best friend. Our bodies produce melatonin naturally to regulate sleep cycles. Some doctors recommend taking melatonin a few days before or after each flight, depending on your direction of travel. However, melatonin is still a drug, so be sure to check with your doctor before self-medicating!
2. Don’t stay up all night the evening before you travel
While this may seem like a good idea, and while you may hope this will force you to sleep at a normal time upon arrival, it will backfire. Cross-time zone travel upsets our body’s entire natural state, including more than just sleep cycles.
3. Treat yourself
Be nice to your body before you depart. Travelling long distances with a burning hangover is quite possibly the worst feeling in the world. Nobody wants to sit on a cramped airplane with the taste of last night’s tequila still lingering on your lips. Exercise, eat well and sleep regularly for a few days before each departure.
4. Plan for layovers
No one likes layovers. The added travel time could be time spent on a beach, with loved ones, or exploring a new area. However, all cons aside, layovers allow our bodies a small window of time to readjust mid-travel to a new time-zone. Next time you can’t find any direct flights to your destination, think of the layover as a blessing in disguise!
On the flight:
5. Stay hydrated
Hydration is the key to happiness on long journeys, and optimal sleep cycles all the time. Dehydration will also negatively affect your mood and comfort. Alcoholic drinks may make you fall asleep faster during travel time, but you will wake feeling foggy and unrested. Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages to ensure the easiest transition into any new time zone.
6. Sleep on the plane
Some swear that sleeping on the plane makes jet lag worse: “I can’t sleep when I arrive!” But when our bodies cannot sync to a new time, ANY sleep is a good sleep. Bring ear plugs, wear comfortable clothing, and maybe even splurge for the seat with extra leg room.
7. Change your watch to the destination time zone as soon as you get on your plane.
This will give your mind time to readjust to the new zone long before you even arrive.
8. Soak up the sun!
Use the sunlight at your destination as a natural timer to help your body resync. Soaking up as much sun during your days will also help burn energy and motivate your body to return to a proper sleep cycle.
Most importantly, know your own body. Stocking up on sleeping pills is not the safest option for everyone. Avoid scheduling important meetings for a few hours after arrival to avoid added stress. Know when to stop and rest, and know when to refuel. Be nice to your body! Follow these tips to beat the jet lag beast (especially when travelling to the east).