Jet lag, simply put, it can be a pain in the ass. Even the best of us experience jet lag at some point…even if we say we don’t.
Luckily for me working 4:00 am starts for many years, prepared me for adjusting my body clock. My whole life constantly felt like I was jet lagged. In fact, coming home from overseas almost made getting up for work at 3:00 am a piece of cake.
But je tlag is somewhat inevitable, so here are a couple of ways to keep it in check. Some of my methods may not seem conventional but they have worked for me. For example many suggest getting as much sleep as possible prior to the flight. I am definitely not one to always do this. As much as I love flying, I do not want to be so well rested that I will be bright eyed and bushy tailed the whole 14 hours to LA.
Before You Fly
Booking Your Ticket
If you are someone that can sleep on planes you may want to book a flight that has you arriving early morning. This will allow you to spend the day adjusting to the time zone at your destination and be tired enough to sleep the first night. If you are someone that just won’t get a wink of sleep on board, try booking a flight that gets you into your destination in the evening. You will arrive just in time to get out of the airport, check into your hotel, hit the pillow and sleep like the dead till morning. Just don’t forget to set an alarm.
Consider Your Destination
I always begin taking note of what my destination time is a day or two before leaving and start getting into that time zone as early as I can, although this is usually because I am still up packing the night before. It may also help to change the time of your watch or iPhone.
During The Flight
Note: I am not, nor will I ever be a medical professional, but something that does get discussed a lot with flying are sleeping tablets. For me personally, I have used prescription sleeping tablets on the plane and the first couple nights on arrival. There are also plenty of herbals varieties available such as melatonin, chamomile and St John’s wort that can induce sleep. If you are lucky enough to be a good sleeper than even better.
Other aids that are useful include earplugs, eye mask and a blanket. There is nothing worst than trying to sleep and being icy cold from the airplane air conditioning.
Something I never thought would be worth its bang for its buck, are noise-cancelling earphones. I use to hear people rave about them and thought what pompous travelers.
I take that all back.
I did not get these headphones to drown out crying babies, although it does help, but these babies (the headphones) do a fantastic job of drowning out that loud aircraft noise. Something I didn’t even notice until I wore my Bose headphones from LA to Sydney.
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To Drink Or Not To Drink
Look I am not one to give up a free drink, well technically it’s not free, but I do try to counteract each drink with a glass of water. I don’t see why you can’t have a glass of champers at take off and a red at dinner. Just don’t be that person running down the aisle naked after a few too many Jack Daniels.
After You Fly
If you arrive anytime before 6pm, you will need to use all your power to fight sleep. No power nap, no micro sleep, none of this “I’m just resting my eyes” crap.
The worst thing you can do is sleep in the day, you are setting yourself up for days on end of terrible jet lag.
Check The Sun
Exposure to sunlight will naturally trick the body by resetting its circadian clock and suppressing the natural production of melatonin, which helps put you to sleep. Even half an hour of exposure will aid the adjusting process.
The best thing I did when arriving in California one year was going for a four-hour bike ride along the Pacific Coast Highway. It kept me focused and awake all day and made for a well-deserved sleep that night. Exercise will stimulate the production of endorphins. Even just walking the streets of a new city can sustain the tiredness. Just don’t sit on a tour bus if you are easily rocked to sleep. Once, I was so tired I fell asleep and hit my face on the handrail in front of me.
Needless to say, I was definitely awake after that.
Arriving at night can either be a blessing or a curse depending on how much sleep you get, or lack thereof on the plane. Whether you are tired or not, make sure you unpack and have a hot shower. For those not extremely tired, food coma is a great way to fall asleep. Carbohydrates induce sleep so try indulging in a pasta meal an hour or two before bed. At all other times enjoy as much fresh fruit and veggies as possible. I avoid technology if trying to sleep as it can over stimulate the brain. Reading a book somehow always manages to put me out like a light.
Expect The Unexpected
The most important thing to remember is despite planning when to sleep and when not to sleep down to the minute, a simple flight delay, screaming baby or illness can throw things all out of whack. If this is the case, roll with the punches even it means being grumpy for one day; it’s better than 5 days.
What are your tips for dealing with jet lag?