If you’ve ever flown across continents, got to your hotel with big plans to sight-see, and ended up taking a fat nap instead, this one is for you. It turns out being jetlagged isn’t just a matter of being tired, it’s a complete disruption of your circadian rhythms with the ability to make you feel downright bad, sometimes for days. Here’s how you can combat those bad feelings before, during, and after you take flight.
Prepare days before
It’s pretty simple. If you’re headed west, start staying up later than normal, and if you’re headed east, start going to bed earlier. Even one-hour increments for three days prior can really help get you ready for that time change. Timeshifter, Jet Lag Rooster, and Uplift are great tools to help you get on track. The apps can sync you with your new timezone before you arrive, give you scheduled jetlag prevention tips, and even an easy 5-minute personalized exercise to get you readjusted using bio-rhythmic acupressure.
Fight jetlag with its only true cure, sleep
The worst possible thing for jetlag is sleep deprivation. That means you need to try and sleep as much as possible on your flight. Get an eye mask, a comfy neck pillow, foot hammock, bring a sweater or jacket you can use as a blanket, and take melatonin if you have to. Denying that mile-high glass of wine is going to be your friend. Say no caffeine and alcohol. They are sleep disruptors and dehydrators. You can do all the responsible day-drinking you want once you’re settled into your new timezone.
Hydrate hydrate hydrate
Did we mention hydrating? Research shows you can lose 1.5-2 liters of water on a 10-hour flight, even with water intake. Dehydration is the second worst thing for jetlag because it doubles the symptoms you can have from switching timezones. When the flight attendants come around, stick to water or decaffeinated tea, consider bringing along a hydration multiplier like Liquid IV and get to chugging.
Hold off on eating a big meal
Go easy on the meals the airlines serve and don’t consume anything more than light, low-sodium snacks for the rest of your flight’s duration. Heavy, high-fat meals also contribute to disrupting quality sleep. Unfortunately, a lot of common snacks known to be healthy are loaded with sodium, leading to further dehydration. Be cautious of that trail mix loaded with salt. Think of it this way, do a little fast on your flight and reward yourself with a meal rich in proteins and healthy carbs at a local restaurant once you touch down. It’ll pay off for both your jetlag and tastebuds.
You made it!!! Now ease into your new timezone the moment you step off the plane
If you land in the morning, try and get sunshine from 11 am on, for as long as possible (don’t forget your sunscreen and sunglasses. :)) The sun is a huge aid in setting your circadian rhythm and getting you back on track. Take a cold shower to wake your nervous system up. Stretch, hit some yoga poses, and loosen up those tight plane legs. The cups of coffee you denied on the plane? It’s time to have them. Skip the nap you’re dying for and stay awake until it’s a normal bedtime. Seriously, don’t even give your bed a second glance. If you can make it till 8 pm, consider it a win after an exhausting day of travel. In the days following, stay awake later until you’ve got your sleep schedule where you want it for the rest of your holiday. Nobody wants to be a nocturnal traveler.
Reap the benefits of working smarter, not harder
Live your best life at a wine tasting, indulge in a local pastry, take a nap on the beach and enjoy yourself. Everything in moderation, friends. Now get on that plane and give yourself the best chance at feeling good while taking on the world.