9 great tips to get over jet lag!
Jet lag is the bane of world travelers and given that it can take 1 day for each time zone you cross to fully adjust, its possible you could spend the better part of two weeks adjusting. These 9 tips below are the best ways we know of to overcome jet lag much faster, and 2 additional tips that we don’t recommend trying.
Pre-adjust your schedule
Tip #1 is one you can start doing pre-trip to prepare your body for the shock of crossing multiple time zones. If possible start adjusting your schedule to something closer to what the time will be at your destination. If the time change will be 8-12 hours it is often not possible to make a full change before you go, but for each hour you move your own schedule it is one less day you will spend adjusting when you get where you are going.
Adjust your schedule for the flight
Tip #2 is also something you can do for free, and that is to do everything you can to follow the time of your destination while you are on your flight. If it requires you to sleep then bring what you can with you to help you to sleep on your flight. For many people sleeping on a plane can be a struggle. There are a few things that can help you with that including a sleep mask and ear plugs. Some also like to take things like Melanin to help them sleep, and we’ll cover this in another tip.
Tip #3 is for when you land. Ideally you will land in the day hours and do everything that you can to stay awake until an appropriate hour to sleep. This can be hard to do especially if you have not been sleeping well before your trip, but if you can keep yourself up this first day it will help you a lot for the rest of your trip. Hopefully you don’t feel like a zombie by the end of the day.
Be well rested!
Tip #4 is just to get plenty of sleep in the days leading up to your trip. People who are well rested always handle stress on the body better than people sleep deprived. Do what you can to get 8 full hours of sleep without any sleep aids for 3 days before your flight and you’ll be far ahead of the sleep deprived.
Tip #5 is going to be a let down for some, but it is to be fit. Just like being well rested, being in good physical shape makes it far easier for the body to handle and recover from stresses like jet lag. While we all can’t have 6 pack abs, just having a regular workout routine a few days a week can make a big difference when it comes to adjusting to your new time zone.
Keep hydrated and avoid alcohol
Tip #6 is avoid alcohol. On flights it will only dehydrate you, and the cabin air of the aircraft will do enough of that on its own. You’ll want to stay hydrated as much as possible while avoiding alcohol and caffeine if possible. Many international flights will offer you all the bottled water you can drink. If it is not being offered as often as you’d like at your seat often they will have a basket where you can help yourself in the galley at the rear of the aircraft.
Get your Vitamins!
Tip #7 is to take a B12 vitamin to help keep you awake naturally. B12 naturally increases energy levels and alertness much like caffeine does, but for much longer, and without any “crash” that would occur after the caffeine wore off. It is also much easier on the body because it is a vitamin that your body needs. Because of how B12 works to increase red blood cells in your body to carry oxygen better it would not be a bad idea to start taking this a week before your trip, and then continue every morning while on your trip. Because of what B12 does to your body it is not something that you will want to take at night unless you don’t plan to sleep well or at all.
Get a good nights sleep when you arrive
Tip #8. When you arrive at your destination and you decide to go to bed you will want the best sleep that you can get. Many people find that taking Melatonin to help them sleep works well for sleeping through the night. One of the biggest problems with jet lag is that you frequently wake up during the night leading to poor quality sleep. A sleep aid like Melatonin can help get a rested night without some painful after effects of other sleep aids that we’ll cover later.
Tip #9. Ginseng acts a lot like vitamin B12 or caffeine in that it helps you be more alert and have mental focus. Mental focus is something we all can use while we’re scrambling to adjust to a new sleep schedule and are a little bit crazy after a long flight. So far all the research has found no interactions between ginseng and vitamin B12 which means it should be safe to take both together if you wanted.
Tip #10 avoid sleep aids like Ambien. No doubt you’ve heard the crazy things people blame this sleep aid for. Who can say for sure if that is true or not, but what we do know for sure is that after taking these powerful sleeping aids is that it makes you incredibly irritable and sleepy if you are forced to be awake before the effects wear off. Many people also report that even after eight or ten hours of sleep that they still wake up super tired and drowsy. You know your body better than anyone, but with all the other options these sleep aids should be a pass.
Tip #11 is also one to avoid and that is stimulants like caffeine. You know what caffeine does on the body, and how it can be when it wears off. It also causes your heart to beat faster. Drinks with caffeine like carbonated drinks or coffee should be avoided as should caffeine pills such as No-Doz
Final recommendation: For my own travel where I’m crossing a number of time zones I do a number of these tips. I do my best to get at least 3 hours closer to my destinations time zone early. I try to stay awake as long as I can once I reach my destination, and I like to take vitamin B12 to help me stay awake once I’m there. I find that these 3 tips alone make all the difference in the world, but there is always a number of days of jet lag that just cannot be mitigated with any tips. Best of luck on your travels!