As my summer trip overseas approaches I find myself thinking about jet lag. When flying to and from different time zones your body and internal clock have a hard time adjusting to the changes and you wind up dealing with what is commonly known as jet lag. Many assume that this will ruin your first few days on your trip. And with holidays not being as long as we want them to be, missing out on a day or two can certainly put a damper on your itinerary. But jet lag does not need to be the Grinch that stole your vacation. It is possible to minimize the effects of jet lag and here are my top 8 tips.
1. Rest – This probably seems obvious. However, as the departure date approaches we tend to go in overdrive and do not rest enough. All these sleepless or restless nights will add up and interfere with your travel. So get as much rest as possible in the days prior to your departure.
2. More rest – I am now talking about the sleep you get while in-flight. Once on board your flight getting even a few hours of zzz’s will ensure you can function upon arrival. I do not normally recommend sleeping pills as many of them just leave you groggy once you wake. But if you are a nervous flyer you can talk to your Dr. and see if he/she can recommend something that will help you relax a bit so you can rest while you fly.
3. Avoid light – Light is a key factor in telling your body when to sleep and when to wake. Keeping light out while traveling on an overnight flight is extremely important. So avoid watching that movie and consider wearing a face mask to keep the ambient light away from your eyes while you sleep.
4. Tune out the noise – Let’s face it, airplanes can be noisy, and not everyone is soothed by the “soft” engine humming. Using a good set of noise cancelling headphones or even some earplugs can significantly improve the amount of uninterrupted rest you get.
5. Stick to your routine – Although there is much debate that traveling in the daytime is best in order to avoid jet lag, I have found that for me, the easiest way to get back to my routine is to opt for an overnight flight. I can have dinner, sleep inflight, and then arrive at my destination in the morning and go about my day. This replication of a normal schedule makes it easier to adjust and reset my internal clock. If you are not a good inflight sleeper then try the opposite. Opt for a daytime flight and use the time aboard to watch some movies or catch up on reading. Then when you arrive, have some dinner, take a brief walk and go to bed. Either way keeping as close as possible to a regular routine will help.
6. Stay hydrated – It is tricky to find the balance between staying hydrated and drinking to much water and then having to get up frequently therefore disturbing your rest. But numerous studies show how hydration plays a key role in combating jet lag. Also make sure you have drops for your eyes, and lotion for your hands and body as the air on board is very drying. Some also use mists for their face or wet wipes. All this helps in keeping you refreshed and hydrated.
7. Avoid alcohol – As tempting as it may be to indulge in adult beverages especially if you are traveling in business or first class where these are provided to you I suggest that you limit your intake or even avoid it altogether. Alcohol may help you fall asleep but it will also disturb your later stages of sleep and therefore you will actually rest less. It also dehydrates you.
8. Don’t nap – If you arrive at your destination during daylight don’t be tempted to go to the hotel and take a nap no matter how tired you are. That 20 min nap can easily turn to 4-5 hrs and disrupt your sleep patterns even more. Instead have a nice coffee or tea and go about exploring. Then just go to bed at a reasonable bed time.
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What works for you to avoid jet lag? I would love to hear from you so leave me your comments below. Hope you have a restful flight and that you enjoy your travels.