An issue when not only going abroad on long flights but changing multiple time zones stateside as well (for instance traveling east from the west coast) is how to get over jet lag that plagues you once you reach your destination. Obviously it’s worse the farther away from home you go, but all that lost sleep, no matter what distance you traveled, can really take a toll.
And honestly, you don’t want to lose any more time at your vacation spot than you absolutely have to right? Here are some tips on how to get over jet lag and make the most of your time away!
First things first:
How Do You Know That You Have Jet Lag?
Jet lag symptoms include a disrupted circadian rhythm, meaning your body’s internal clock is off. So, you are sleepy during the day and awake at night. Also, you may have all the symptoms associated with sleep deprivation: headaches, difficulty concentrating, and associated mood changes. In addition, because your body clock is off, your GI tract may feel the effects as well, and you may experience constipation and/or diarrhea, or a change in appetite. I’ve also dealt with nausea.
How to Get Over Jet Lag
1. Starting With The Flight
A travel hack, If at all possible, try to book flights that land at your destination at night or in the evening local time. That way you get there and can just check into your hotel, take care of your nightly routine and hit the bed. The time change in this scenario will hopefully not be as big of an issue.
An alternative is to book a red-eye. This is especially doable if you are that person that can sleep anywhere. It’s also helpful for trips that are maybe only a weekend-long as it saves you a full day. For instance, going from California to the east coast. If you leave on a red eye Thursday night after a day of work and arrive on Friday morning, you’ve just given yourself a whole extra day to spend at your destination, versus flying all day Friday and only having that evening to explore or hangout
2. Sleep Aids
Whether or not you can sleep anywhere, your circadian rhythm will take a hit when you travel across several time zones. To help combat this you take something that can help you sleep when you need to. For instance, on a red-eye, you can take sleeping pills (like Ambien) or Benadryl or Melatonin to help you get some sleep on the plane.
Or, if you find yourself at your destination, at night, wide awake, then you can take a sleep aid to assist then.
One caution with this method, make sure you don’t mix the sleep aids with alcohol. Also, with melatonin, the body is able to develop a tolerance to it if you take it too consistently. So, save this method for when you are truly trying to readjust to a new time zone.
3. Avoid Caffeine
…unless absolutely necessary. With your internal clock all off kilter, you need to avoid anything that will keep you awake when you don’t want to be. It’s an easy way to not just get over jet lag, but avoid it altogether.
If it is absolutely necessary, then be sure to drink water afterward to stay hydrated!
4. Take Small Naps, If Needed
You have to listen to your body here. If its 1 pm and you’re struggling with yourself, just go lie down for 2-3 hours. Make sure it’s no longer than that though. Keep in mind when you’re working on how to get over jet lag, all you want to do is get through the sleepy humps that creep up on you; not ruin your sleep for the upcoming night. Here are some techniques for relaxing before bed that you can take with you on your travels!
5. Stay Hydrated
If you think having an alcoholic drink on the plane will help you sleep, then fine. Alternatively, if you avoid alcohol, you may be able to avoid excessive sleeping on the airplane, meaning you’ll be better able to fall asleep once you arrive at your destination (assuming you land in the evening local time).
Regardless, make sure you drink plenty of water to prevent getting dehydrated. Dehydration can worsen jet lag symptoms.
6. Drown Out the Noise and Bright Lights
When you try to sleep, or have a chance at solid rest, then give yourself the best possible chance to accomplish that goal. Use noise-canceling earplugs and eye masks, and avoid screen time before bed (the blue light from your phones can make getting to sleep harder!).
All of these strategies have helped me in the past when I worked on how to get over the jet lag that plagued me on my long trips and sometimes I was able to prevent jet lag altogether. Hopefully, they help you on your journeys as well! Happy Travels!
Do you have anything to add to this list? Comment below!
(All photos courtesy of Unsplash)
Sanjana is a physician anesthesiologist, avid traveler, and entrepreneur. She founded The Female Professional in order to give women a voice and a platform to express themselves. With her experiences as a physician, as a CEO of a startup, and as a writer, she understands the struggles and frustrations that women face. She also understands what it takes to move past those things and come out on top. Through this platform, Sanjana aims to empower women to be their best, authentic, selves, achieve work/life balance, and live life to the fullest.