There’s nothing quite like hopping on a plane to travel to a faraway land. That is, until the jet lag hits and you’re feeling miserable when you’re supposed to be sightseeing and eating all the food. That being said, there are things you can do before, during and after your flight to help minimize its effects on your body. Read on for some expert tips on how to mitigate jet lag next time you switch time zones and ensure you make the most out of your trip without feeling totally out of sync.
1. Plan your route
If you’re traveling for pleasure, Daniel Gillaspia, Founder of UponArriving.com, tells Lively he tries to plan his journey in a way that combats jet lag as much as possible. “Sometimes you can travel far while virtually staying in the same time zone, for example, routes like Tokyo to Sydney or Cape Town to Dubai are great for around-the-world trips since the time difference is only a couple of hours,” he explains.
2. Time your sleep (and maximize those Zzzs)
Make it a point to try and time your sleep accordingly before kicking off your journey. “A few days before a big flight, take a quick peek at your itinerary and figure out the local landing time —if you know you’re arriving in the morning then make sure to snooze on the plane, so you’re refreshed and ready to take on the day ahead,” says Nealy Fischer, Founder of The Flexible Chef. “You may need to use earplugs and an eye mask, but trust me, you’ll be happy when you land! On the flip side, if you’re landing in the evening, sleeping on the plane can lead to a restless night and ruin your entire first day away.”
And while we would describe airplane seats as anything but cozy, Dr. William Winter, President, Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine and Author of The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How To Fix It, has some product suggestions to help you get quality sleep on the plane. For starters, he recommends NapAnywhere, a travel pillow which can fit into the thinnest computer bag or briefcase. If you have a little more space, consider the VerTex Travel Pillow. An eye mask is another item you’ll want to stash in your carry-on. “I always wear a sleep mask. I like several different kinds, this one fits my face well, doesn’t let any light in and is cheap —which is ideal because I lose them often,” he says.
3. Ditch the booze and stay hydrated
While it may seem enticing to partake in a cocktail or two, it’s best to avoid alcohol right before and during your flight. “It can dehydrate your body (which just worsens jet lag symptoms) and mess with your sleep schedule,” notes Fischer. “If you’re thinking to yourself, ‘But alcohol makes me sleepy,’ remember this: While alcohol does, in fact, induce sleep, the quality of sleep will be lower.”
Instead, try to stay hydrated as much as possible. “Pack a cute water bottle in your purse and fill it up once you pass security —keep swigging throughout your flight and even after you land,” she adds. “If you’re struggling to drink enough then you can always eat your water! Munch on cucumber, celery, tomatoes, diced watermelon, blueberries, and other fresh foods that boast a high-water content.”
4. Get moving as soon as you land
“One of my best tips for beating jet lag is to move your body —exercise will get your blood flowing, endorphins pumping, and, according to researchers, help get your circadian rhythm back on track,” says Fischer. “When it comes to my personal travel schedule, lacing up my sneakers and hitting up the hotel’s gym is one of the first things I do after check-in. While it’s tempting to just lay down and rest, you’ll be happier in the long run!”
5. Soak in some sun and breathe the fresh air
Fischer explains that airplane cabin pressure drops when you’re up in the air compared to when you’re at sea level. “To put it simply, this means your brain may not be getting the same amount of oxygen,” she says. “Research shows this can lead to lethargy and jet lag —so, when you land safely to your destination, carve out some outdoor time!”
6. If you need to nap, keep it short
If you’re feeling like you absolutely cannot keep your eyes open once you’ve settled into your hotel, it’s okay to take a nap, but Dr. Winter recommends keeping it short. Kate McCulley, Publisher of AdventurousKate.com, notes that in the afternoon she’ll allow herself a nap of exactly 90 minutes and no more, otherwise you risk completely passing out and getting totally out of sync with your new destination.
7. Get a good night’s sleep
Once you’ve made it through dinner, tee up some time for relaxing. Dr. Winter pops on a pair of Swannies glasses right after eating (designed to help you snooze better) to get his brain ready for sleep. Both Gillaspia and McCulley take melatonin before bed to help combat jet lag —might we also suggest packing our Sleep Collagen Shot, which helps support relaxation and a deep, restorative night's sleep.**
Now that you have the tips you need to survive jet lag, it’s time to plan your next adventure.Bon voyage!