One of the things I love more than anything is traveling. After a personal rough patch many years ago, I didn’t get the opportunity to travel much. Fast forward a bit, and over the last several years I’ve been fortunate enough to travel more than ever. The problem is as I’ve gotten older I’ve really gotten slammed by Jet Lag.
Over the last few years after returning from an overseas trip, I would struggle for weeks to shake my case of Jet Lag. I would crash in the middle of the day, stay up all night, wide awake when I should be sleeping, and dragging when I should be wide awake.
This year I decided this has to change. After doing some research on what works for others I put a plan into action to get rid of Jet Lag once and for all. And guess what? So far, so good. I’ve had two major trips this year, one to France and one to Japan, and both times when I reached my destination and when I came home I was fully functional the next day, with no signs of Jet Lag whatsoever!
What did i do? I’ve put together this list of 10 things that I recommend doing to shake the “Lags.” I’ll be honest…I didn’t stick to this list 100% of the time, so after telling you the 10 tips, I’ll tell you the ones that I think are the must follows.
So here they are, 10 Travel tips to fight off Jet Lag and hit the ground running:
- Save your Pre-flight stress for another day – Take care of as many things as you can well before your flight so that you’re not stressing out over things just before heading to the airport.
- Get a good night’s rest the night before your flight – You’ll be tired enough during and after your flight. Get your rest so your immune system is at its best. Getting a good night’s rest will also help you control your sleep pattern during the flight, which is also very important.
- Watch what you eat – Before and during your flight may not be the best time to eat Chili-cheese dogs, Double Quarter Pounders with Cheese or other greasy meals. Stick to healthier foods, and normal size portions that aren’t gonna bog you down, make your stomach fight with you the whole flight, or make you wanna sleep from the moment you hit your seat.
- Drink lots of water, and BYOB - It should be no secret that Airplanes have a very low-level of humidity, making it very easy for you to get dehydrated. Drink lots of water before, during and after your flight. You’ll thank me later. On top of keeping yourself hydrated, which will make you feel worlds better, you’ll be able to get lots of exercise from your trips to the bathroom – a side benefit. And purchase your own bottle after getting through security. I don’t really trust the airplane water, unless I see the bottle opened in front of my very eyes.
- Set your external clock so you can set your internal clock – As soon as you can after boarding the plane, set your watch to match the current time of your destination. This will help you immediately begin working according to your new schedule, which is vital to fighting off Jet Lag.
- Limit, or eliminate alcohol and caffeine intake – Ok, this is where I might lose a lot of you (and the area I don’t do so well in). If you’re drinking a lot of water to keep hydrated, drinking a lot of alcohol will counter that effect and dehydrate you. Drinking in the air is not the same as drinking on the ground, as one drink is the equivalent of over two drinks on the ground (due to the altitude and air pressure). Too much caffeine can cause problems with sleeping, which can really throw off your game.
- Move your butt – It’s a good idea to move during your flight. Besides the health risk (Deep Vein Thrombosis, a type of blood clot caused by long periods of sitting), stretching and doing mini-exercises in your seat, walking around and stretching will do wonders to keep you comfortable and fight off that lethargic feeling.
- Keep your immune system strong - There’s nothing worse than being sick while you’re flying. Do your best to fight off germs by taking your vitamins, as well as following the steps above of no stress and plenty of rest. You might also look into some herbal remedies, such as No-Jet-Lag ,which are homeopathic tables/powder that seems to have good reviews. I’ve never used them, and as such can’t recommend them. Also consider wearing a face mask, to help keep germs away.
- Adjust your on-flight sleep to fit your new schedule - If you’re arriving at your destination at night, you may not want to sleep 10 hours straight on your flight…doing so might mean that you’ll be wide awake at night watching late-night infomercials in a foreign language. On the other hand, if your flight arrives in the AM, go for more sleep so you can make it through the day. This is key to the next, and last step.
- Immediately adjust your sleep pattern to your new local time – DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT arrive at your hotel at noon and take a 6 hour nap. If you arrive at midnight, DO NOT stay up until 9 AM and then decide to turn in. Your first day at your new location (whether arriving in a foreign country or returning home), take up your normal sleep patterns. Go to sleep at 10 PM or 11 PM if possible. Limit yourself to 6 - 8 hours of sleep. If you’ve arrived in the morning, stay awake until 10-11 PM. Do everything in your power to avoid taking a nap during the day. And if you do take a nap (did I mention that you shouldn’t take a nap), keep it short, 30 minutes to 1 hour maximum.
I mentioned earlier that I don’t follow these tips 100% of the time, so I’d like to tell you which steps I find to be absolutely critical to skipping out on Jet Lag.
If you really thrive off of stress or you have to eat a pre-flight Big Mac, please do so at your own peril…but I recommend that you should absolutely NOT miss the following steps:
- Step 5 – Set your external clock so you can set your internal clock
- Step 8 - Keep your immune system strong
- Step 9 – Adjust your on-flight sleep to fit your new schedule
- Step 10 – Immediately adjust your sleep pattern to your new local time
Please don’t skip step 7 – this may or may not make the difference between having Jet Lag, but there is a serious health risk from not moving during a long flight.
Don’t let Jet Lag rob you of your precious time! Follow these tips and you will hit the ground running, and enjoying your time at your new location instead of spending the day trying to squeeze in those four-hour power naps.
If you have something you do to fight off Jet Lag, why not share it with us in the comments section? We’d love to hear the different ways people deal with it!