How to Avoid Jet Lag
There’s little worse than arriving at a new destination to feel lethargic or exhausted, especially if you have an important business meeting lined up, but sometimes jet lag is hard to avoid. It is caused when our inner body clock is thrown off because our circadian rhythm – the 24-hour cycle that tells us when to eat, sleep and wake up – doesn’t match our destination time zone.
After many trips near and far, here are some tried tips for beating jet lag.
Rest and Relax Before You Travel
It’s important to get a good night’s sleep before you travel so you don’t end up with jet lag on top of sleep deprivation. Also, pack and plan out your itinerary in advance to reduce stress and anxiety just before you fly.
Treat Yourself Well on the Flight
If your trip requires a long flight, make sure you get up and move around the plane every hour to keep blood flowing and decrease lethargy. It’s also no secret that cabin air is dehydrating so you need to drink lots of water. Dehydration will only compound the effects of jet lag.
Start by aiming for 8 ounces of water each hour and you can take it a step further by avoiding dehydrating diuretics like alcohol and caffeine. Restoring electrolytes with coconut water or Gatorade may help you feel better if dehydration has already set in.
As for the airplane meals, you may want to pack your own. Try to eat low-carb, high-protein meals which will lessen the effects of fatigue. And eating light meals during and after your flight will help curb any indigestion caused by jet lag.
Acclimate to Your New Time Zone as Soon as Possible
To minimize the effects of jet lag, you want to get used to your new time zone as quickly as possible. Do this by establishing a routine. After departing, set your watch to the new time zone and sleep on the plane if it’s nighttime in your destination. An eye mask and earplugs work wonderfully.
Once you’ve arrive, eat and sleep at the correct times in your new time zone. To allow your body to adjust it’s important to stay up until a decent bedtime, and remember to set an alarm so you wake up at an appropriate time.
The exception to this rule is if you are traveling for 4 days or less. In this case, you may prefer to stay on your home time zone for the duration of the trip.
Use Sunlight to Reset Your Body Clock
After arriving in your destination, get outside in the sunlight. This will help your circadian rhythm reset. You can also use sunlight to prepare your body before travel. If you are flying east, expose yourself to more sunlight in the morning a few days before you fly, and if you are flying west, expose yourself to more sunlight in the evening. Use a tool like Jet Lag Rooster to prepare an acclimation plan.
Time Your Arrival
If you can arrive in the early evening, this will give you time to acclimate and then go to bed according to your new time zone. If you arrive in the morning, try not to take a nap right away.
When I arrive in the morning, I make sure I already have my first day planned so I jump right into the new time zone. I tend to walk all over the city on my first day since exercise and sunlight work wonders for beating jet lag, and I’m usually exhausted by bedtime from spending the day out and about, allowing me to sleep at the right time.
For important business trips, consider arriving a day in advance to allow your body some time to adjust before big business meetings or projects.