If you’ve ever ventured across the pond or traveled Down Under, you’re probably familiar with the woes of jet lag. Sleepiness? Insomnia? Fatigue? Yes, traveling through different time zones can do a number on your body, as your internal clock struggles to catch up with the time change.
Though jet lag is often considered an unavoidable aspect of visiting destinations far from home, it shouldn’t keep you from enjoying your adventures. To help you avoid some of the negative effects, we’ve outlined the following jet lag remedies, so you’ll feel your best when you touch ground on your vacation.
What is jet lag?
Jet lag is a temporary sleep disorder that’s the result of flying across multiple time zones. The drastic time change confuses your body’s natural circadian rhythm, which relies on cues from the sun and moon.
Because it’s suddenly nighttime when your body expects it to be morning, or vice versa, your body responds with a number of symptoms, such as fatigue and insomnia, and even anxiety, confusion, nausea, and dehydration.
How to beat jet lag
Begin by easing your body into the time zone that you’re traveling to. If you’re flying east, go to bed earlier than usual. Some experts say to consider light therapy, too, so avoid late afternoon light, and seek early morning light instead. If you’re trying to beat jet lag going west, do the opposite—go to bed later and take in afternoon light rather than morning light.
When it comes to booking your flight, consider a red-eye. This way, you can sleep or rest on the plane overnight, and arrive in your destination during the morning or afternoon. Also, take into account seating arrangements. Avoid seats by the bathroom or galley, which are often noisy and high-traffic areas on the plane. What’s more, seats in the backrow sometimes don’t recline, making it difficult to get comfortable. If it’s an especially long haul, paying extra for additional legroom or an exit row can help you get a better night’s rest.
How to avoid jet lag while traveling
On the day of your travels, resist the urge to drink caffeine or alcohol. Staying hydrated is extremely important, so drink plenty of water before, during, and after your flight.
To create the most peaceful environment on the airplane, pack ear plugs and an eye mask to cancel out noise and light. You could even bring your headphones and listen to soothing playlists or a meditation app to keep you calm and relaxed. Don’t forget a blanket and socks to ensure the temperature is just right for heading to the Land of Nod.
Wondering how to beat jet lag when you get home or arrive in your new destination? Take it easy. Give yourself a day or two to adjust before diving into activities. You’ll also want to avoid taking naps, going to bed too early, and sleeping in late—try to get on a normal schedule in the new time zone. In terms of how long jet lag lasts, it could take up to four or five days before you feel recuperated.
It’s common to feel a little out of sorts after a long flight, but following these tips will get you back on your feet faster and ready to enjoy your vacation!