Imagine – You’re embarking on the trip of your dreams, only to be taken down by jet lag on your arrival. You spend the first days roaming around like a zombie thanks to all those sleepless nights. Once you finally recover, it’s time to go back home and experience jet lag once more.
If only travelling wasn’t so exciting, we might not be willing to endure it..!
Some of us are lucky and don’t fully feel the effects of jet lag, while the majority of people have problems with it. And age doesn’t make it any easier. There are, however, several tricks that can help you beat jet lag:
Preparing for your trip
Several days prior to your departure, start scheduling your sleep to match the regime of your destination. You don’t have to necessarily switch day and night to get ready for Asia, but changing the sleep habit by an hour or two can go a long way.
If going eastwards try to go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier. For the opposite direction, delay your sleep a bit (if you can afford to do that without suffering too much at work).
For the geeks among you – Did you know there’s an app to help you get ready to cope with jet lag? It’s called Entrain and it’s available for both iOS and Android. It was developed my mathematicians and it basically learns your typical daylight schedule and then suggests when to expose yourself to light at your new destination. Try it and let me know how it works ;)
Starting the trip
Depending on which direction you’ll fly, you’d either try to sleep or stay awake. Again, if you’re going eastwards, you better save the sleep for after you arrive. If you can’t cope with a bit of lack of sleep, try to take a few naps rather than sleep for a long time. On westbound flights, you need to sleep to arrive as fresh as possible. It’s often difficult to fall asleep if you don’t feel like it, so try to wear yourself off with some exercise right before heading to the airport.
Naturally, First Class is the best option for a nice sleep on long-haul flights. If you have to stay in Economy, try to get the exit row, so that you have at least a bit more legroom (but check if seats can be reclined!). Avoid alcohol and watching long movies. Sleeping pills can help, but better avoid them on flights that are shorter than 7 hours. If you mange to get to sleep with earplugs and/or a sleep mask, that would be the best option.
Try to assimilate with the local day / night pattern rather sooner than later and try to trick your body into the new schedule. If you feel really tired way before bedtime, go for a walk outside to get some fresh air.
If you can’t fall asleep at night, try to read or find an activity that makes your eyes tired and helps them close. Don’t force yourself to sleep with hard meds. If you feel like you need to use sleep enhancements, go for natural essences – lavender oil is said to relax the body and mind and put it to sleep more easily.
Actually, you can even make use of jet lag on your trip! I often go see sunrises that I wouldn’t normally manage to wake up for. Sightseeing in wee hours will get you stunning photos without tourists and you’ll see a totally different perspective on things than if you had to fight the crowds.
After coming back
Try to get back to normal as quickly as possible. Your daily routine will certainly help. The best-case scenario is not to go back to work on the day of arrival or ideally not even the next day. But you can’t always swing that kind of luxury, right?
Jet lag is a pain but it can’t stop us from travelling..! Planes made travelling so much faster and easier but jet lag is the toll we have to pay for it. Use the tips above to cope with it better and hopefully it’ll become a thing of the past.
Do you have rituals that help you feel less jet-lagged when traveling long distances?