Listen, I’m not a scientist, a nutritionist, a naturopath, a doctor or any other kind of qualified individual who can tell you about the human body. I am however a traveller who has had one too many flights arriving the night before I return to work, thus I deem myself semi-qualified to grace you with my opinion and how I overcome jet lag quicker than most.
I’ve always been fairly good at adjusting to time. I’m not sure if things like this are biological or if what I do actually helps (please someone try these out and let me know) but either way jetlag sucks and can ruin your time upon arriving in a new destination or when you get home. Having to work the day after returning home from a trip also isn’t the most ideal situation but for those of us who like to maximize our vacation days you know the last-minute-return-home flights all too well.
For me preparing for jet lag doesn’t start when you board the plane onwards to your destination, it starts a few days before.
Get more sleep
I usually go to bed or try to go to bed an hour earlier each night for three nights. I usually go to bed at 11pm which means the night before I leave I’ll try to be in bed by 8:30 / 9pm. This is usually much hard to do than it sounds because I’m too excited to sleep the night before I’m travelling anywhere.
Book an overnight flight
This usually sucks so much but to help take advantage of vacation days I’ll book an overnight flight. This way I can spend the day at work (pretending to work [just kidding if someone from work is reading this]) and land first thing in the morning at my new destination. Here’s the thing though, I never, ever, ever sleep on planes. This means that upon arrival at the new destination I have had no sleep and normally I would be absolutely exhausted but because I’m arriving somewhere new the adrenaline kicks in and I’m usually ready to go.
Change your watch, phone, alarm clock to local time
As soon as I get on a plane I always change my phone and watch to the local time of where I’m going to be landing. This is the best way to try and trick your mind and yourself is to switch the time as soon as possible. That way you start to think, okay it’s such and such time instead of always knowing what time it is back home.
Take a quick nap
If there is time when I arrive at a new destination I’ll try and take a quick nap. Don’t make this longer than 2 hours or you will do yourself a disservice. Make it quick, just a bit of shut eye to keep you energized for the rest of the day. I only usually do this if I didn’t get any sleep on the plane the night before. If I have I’ll usually try and stick it out. If not you could always just lie on the grass in the sun somewhere, that usually helps too!
Drink lots and lots of water
This might seem like an obvious one, and one that you should do in your everyday life but when you’re trying to get over jet lag it’s especially important. It’s only too easy to get that glass of wine or beer on the plane when you’re heading off on vacation but if you’re going to do that at least order a glass of water on the side. Part of the negative effects of jet lag largely come from dehydration, similar to that of hangovers.
Go for a walk
This is an absolute must, along with drinking lots of water. Get outside and get yourself under the sun as much as you can in your first few days in a new place. This helps your body to acclimatize to where you are as it will naturally recognize the movement of the sun. Even if it’s not a nice day out and you think the sun isn’t out (unless it’s pouring rain) go out anyways. Chances are the sun is peaking through somewhere. Plus fresh air always helps as well.
Stay up as long as you can
Try your hardest to go to bed during your normal hour but in local time. Unless you’re out partying then you can go to bed whenever you want. But really, force yourself to stay up – even if you’re the most tired you’ve ever been in your entire life STAY UP! Your body will be so tired you’ll naturally sleep through the night and wake up the next morning at a relatively normal time. On my most recent trip to Europe I didn’t sleep one wink on the red-eye plane, had a quick nap (less than 2 hours) upon arrival and was up until 2am England time. By the time I got to bed I slept until 10am and woke up refreshed and relatively on track with the time change.
If you still find yourself either extremely awake or extremely tired at the wrong times one of the best things I do for myself is workout. The best way to do this is to go for a run in whatever new destination you’re exploring – you’ll get to see some cool sights at the same time. Try to do this first thing in the morning as well if you can.
Hopefully these tips help you to overcome jet lag on your next trip! Have I missed any? How do you overcome jet lag?