Planning for an upcoming trip and looking for ways to beat that awful jet lag? Well, continue reading to learn my tips and tricks for preventing and curing jet lag no matter where you’re traveling!
I recently returned from a trip to Europe with my husband. While abroad, I marveled at the sights of the Colosseum in Rome and Eiffel tower in Paris and ate enough croissants and crepes to feed a small village.
While my vacations are generally jam-packed full of sightseeing and fun activities, they are also a time for me to catch up on that much needed sleep and relaxation.
So, as I was preparing for my trip, one thing I made sure to prep myself for was the time difference and how that difference would affect my sleep.
We all know the toll
Jet lag can make you feel groggy, mentally clouded, and of course SLEEPY. It can also have effects on your digestion as your body is trying to adjust to the new time zone.
Luckily there are ways to manage jet lag so that you can get the most out of your vacation and enjoy every minute! (I mean, you deserve it right?)
In this post, I’ll cover my simple tips and tricks to help you beat jet lag and continue to reap the benefits of a good night’s sleep no matter where you are!
What is Jet lag?
So let’s start by defining jet lag. Jet lag is a sleep disorder that causes fatigue and irritability along with other physical and psychological effects secondary to an imbalance of the body’s circadian rhythm caused by travel across time zones.
In other words, it’s that disorienting feeling you get after taking a long flight.
And depending on how many time zones you cross, it can take quite some time for your body to recover. The current rule of thumb is that it takes about a day for your body to adjust to one to two time zones. So if your traveling from say Washington D.C to Paris, France (across 6 time zones), it would take you 3 to 5 days for your body to adjust.
The good news is that you can do your part to prepare for your trip and experience fewer symptoms of jet lag and recover sooner.
What to Do Before Your Trip
Now the key to beating jet lag is preparing BEFORE your trip as most of the damage is already done once you reach your destination.
Tip #1 Try to Adjust Your Internal Clock to the New Time Zone
The quickest way for you to adjust to a new time zone is to start shifting your circadian rhythm to your new time zone before you leave. If traveling west, you can do this by adjusting your sleep time and wake time 1 hour later each day for several days before your trip (depending on how many time zones your crossing).
If traveling east, you can adjust your sleep and wake time by 1 hour earlier each day.
Tip #2 Try to Choose a Well-timed flight
So this is not always an option, however, if you are able to pick a flight that flies overnight and gets to your destination some time in the morning or early afternoon, it will be easier for you to adjust to the new time zone.
This will give you time to sleep on the plane when your body naturally produces melatonin and be awake during the day when you reach your destination, making it easier to transition your day/night schedule in your new destination.
Tip #3 Stay Hydrated
This tip is a simple but important one that can be easily overlooked. Flying can make you very dehydrated and dehydration can worsen those symptoms caused by jet lag. So make sure you drink up before AND during your flight!
What to Do on Your Flight
Tip #1 Create a Good
Sleep-Promoting Environment on Your Flight
We all know how difficult it can be to get sleep on flights with uncomfortable seats and cramped legroom. But there are things you can do to make falling asleep easier.
I recommend bringing earplugs or listening to white noise on your phone to help drown out distracting noises. You should also bring an eye mask to block the light. I also recommend turning the air on over your seat to make the temp a little cooler which helps signal to your body that it’s time to sleep.
Tip #2 Take Some Melatonin
Sometimes you just can’t fall asleep, even after trying to create the perfect sleep environment. Whether it’s the excitement of the upcoming trip or trying to fall asleep in a new place, sometimes you just need a little help. This is where melatonin comes in.
As I covered in Natural Sleep Remedies, Your Solution to Helping You Fall Asleep Naturally, melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced by your body and signals that it is time to go to sleep. You should take it 30 min to 1 hour before take off to give you that extra push.
Tip #3 Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine
As I mentioned in my post How Can I Cure My Insomnia: 7 Tips to Ensuring a Good Night’s Sleep, it is important to avoid both alcohol and caffeine too close to going to sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant that will keep you awake and make it even harder to fall asleep on the plane.
And while some people like to enjoy a nice cocktail to ease their nerves about flying, alcohol interferes with deep sleep and can lead to middle of the night and early morning awakenings.
What to do After You Have Reached Your Destination
Tip #1 Avoid Napping During the Day
As you all know from my post The Art of the Power Nap I LOVE a good nap. But you should actually avoid napping once you reach your destination. As you’re working to adjust your internal clock, napping can interfere with this and make it harder for you to fall asleep later that night.
Tip#2 Get Sunlight!
While melatonin is produced by your body to let you know it’s time to go to sleep, natural light signals to your body to do just the opposite. So a great way to tune your body into a different day/night cycle is to get sunlight during the day. This will make it easier to stay awake during the day and make your transition a little smoother.
Tip# 3 Don’t Sleep In!
While it will be very tempting to sleep in late the morning after you arrive to your new destination, this could make it harder for you to adjust to the new timing. You should have a set time to go to sleep and wake up and make sure you get up at the time even if you are still tired. Trust me, it will make future mornings that much easier.
Now you can travel knowing that you have the tools you need to beat jet lag and get some much-needed R & R on your vacation.
If you all have any more tips and tricks that you use to beat jet lag, leave them in the comments below.
And as usual, happy sleeping!