You’ve made it through a long haul flight, arrived at your destination and you’re ready to get out there and explore. There’s just one thing holding you back: jet lag!
Your mind is fuzzy, your appetite is all over the place, you’re exhausted in the morning or energized just when it’s time to go to bed. But don’t despair! There are a number of things you can do before, during and after your flight to reduce your jet lag, cope with that groggy head and arrive feeling fresh faced and ready to make the most of your time away.
1. Make changes before you fly
Planning ahead will make things much easier when you arrive at your destination: for example, if you’re flying eastwards, start going to bed 30 minutes earlier for a few days before your flight. This will help your body clock to prepare for the shift in time and you’ll find it easier to go to bed at a reasonable hour when you arrive!
2. Use your time in flight wisely
Being aware of the time at your destination whilst in flight can make all the difference when you land. If you’ll be arriving in the evening, for example, try to hold off sleeping until you arrive, taking short naps if you really need to rest. Switch your watch to the time zone of your destination, and start making small changes in the air in order to slowly adapt your schedule – you’ll thank yourself when you land.
3. Say no to caffeine and alcohol
Avoiding alcohol and caffeine, as well as drinking plenty of water, can not only make your time in flight more bearable but it will also help you to avoid jet lag on arrival. If you can, go without your morning coffee on the day of your long haul flight and hold off on that in flight glass of wine to help you drift off – alcohol actually makes our sleep more fragmented, leaving you feeling less rested and more groggy.
4. Create a ‘sleep kit’
There’s nothing worse than arriving at your destination, ready for bed, and being unable to fall asleep! Pack a few things which will help you catch some shut eye – whether that’s a favorite pillowcase, an eye mask or a cozy pair of sleep socks.
5. Follow a normal schedule on arrival
However tempting it may be to hit the sack and hibernate until the jet lag goes away, the general advice is to try and go about your day as normal according to the new time zone. If you arrive in the morning, try to stay up and active for the day and equally, if you get there at night see if you can get some shut eye.
6. Stick to everyday habits
Got a bed time routine? Follow it when traveling as well as at home. Those morning rituals you do when you wake up in the morning in your own bed? Do them when you’re away too. Sticking to those daily rituals will help your body to adjust to the new time zone – you’re welcome!
7. Nap if you need to
Having said all that, sometimes your body just really needs to sleep. That’s ok, but re-energize with short power naps rather than settling in for the long haul at 10am in the morning. There are conflicting opinions on whether sleeping at all is a good idea, but we think a quick nap is better than falling asleep outdoors in an unknown country! Just make sure not to turn that nap into a full blown sleeping session.
What are your top tips for avoiding jet lag?
IMG: Jet Lag in Venice, Louis Vest, >early morning (rest your head remix), Jason Trbovich, >Looking down, Lenny DiFranza / Flickr cc. and Shutterstock