Whether it’s your first time traveling or your 100th, jet lag is never fun.
When you finally reach your destination, all you want to do is hit the ground running and start checking things off the list you’ve been making for weeks.
But often, babies were screaming on the plane, the temperature was all wrong, and you didn’t sleep as well as you thought you would.
Whether or not these are the ‘best’ ways to get your cycles back in order, these are my methods in overcoming jet lag:
Book a red eye
This is my favorite method of combating jet lag. Obviously if you leave home in the evening, and land in your new temporary home in the morning, it’s a win-win! But only if you’re adept at sleeping on planes. More on this later.
These flights usually travel west to east, so availability may depend on where you’re coming from. Flying east to west is always much easier for jet lag systems in general as well.
Have a drink
This one might not be the best piece of advice (and doctors would probably tell you otherwise), but it’s honestly what helps me most.
If I get to a new place where bedtime is earlier than my natural rhythm and it’s getting late but I’m wide awake, I’ll slip into a local bar for a quick drink or two.
Not only does this give me a chance to try the local beverages and meet new people, but alcohol makes me really sleepy.
Don’t over do it though. You’ll already be dehydrated and while alcohol can help you fall asleep, it won’t be as restful.
Wears face mask and ear plugs
Whether you’re trying to sleep on the plane or in your hotel or hostel, a good face mask and ear plugs can be a life saver.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten to my hostel (often a huge dorm room) and diligently waited until a ‘normal’ hour to fall asleep, only to have people coming in and out all night like it’s a room with a revolving door (it is).
That first night of sleep is important to ensure you’re well rested for your first big day, and to properly set up your system for your new time zone.
Same thing goes for the plane. Bright overhead lights and screaming babies aren’t the best for when you’re trying to maximize that red hour flight. Come prepared!
Drinks lots of water
This also includes minimizing how much alcohol, coffee, and tea you drink. All of these things can dehydrate you further and leave your body struggling to regulate more than just jet lag.
Technically, you should be drinking 8 ounces of water for every hour you’re in the air. Also keep in mind that every alcoholic drink you have in the air equals two or three on the ground to equate for cabin pressure.
Dehydration also leads to drowsiness and trouble concentrating – things you do not want to be dealing with when trying to sight-see!
Eat at the right times
This perhaps makes the biggest difference in your circadian rhythm, which is in charge of regulating things like sleep and your body’s internal clock.
It lasts about 24 hours, and allows your body to feel tired, hungry, etc. at your rhythm’s natural time. Eating at the proper times in your new place can help stabilize your energy levels.
Your circadian rhythm is also very sensitive to light (a regulating factor), so don’t skip on the face mask when it’s dark in your new time zone!
Resist the urge to fall asleep
Whatever you do, do not fall asleep as soon as you check into your hotel. I repeat, do not fall asleep.
Even though you’re exhausted when you land and want nothing more than to rest up for your big trip, you’ll only prolong the effects of jet lag longer.
Get settled in your room, go out and grab a cup of coffee, and then start your day as you normally would.
Whether you have a full day ahead of you or just a few hours, keep yourself awake until a normal (or early!) bedtime in your new temporary home, and then give yourself the gift of rest.
After that first night of sleep, you’ll wake up feeling relaxed and it will be much easier to stick to your new schedule.
What methods are most helpful to you in combating jet lag?