We’ve all been there: pumped to explore a new place, but incapable of doing anything except taking a nap. The struggle of a crippling case of jet lag is very real, even for seasoned travellers.
Fortunately, while you may not be able to eliminate the effects of trans-time zone travel altogether, you can significantly reduce them with a few simple strategies. Ahead, we’ve compiled 7 jet lag cures beloved by globetrotters that will have you hopping off the plane and straight into sightseeing.
#1 Adjust your sleep pattern in advance.
If possible, get a jump on the time zone adjustment process. Start shifting your daily routine forward or backward to simulate the sleep cycle you’ll want while travelling. The change should be gradual, so only move your bedtime by one hour each day. You can also begin eating meals closer to the time you’ll eat at your destination. It’s not a quick fix, but it’s one of the most effective ways to beat jet lag.
#2 Rest on the flight, even if you can’t sleep.
Sleep on the plane if it’s currently nighttime where you’re headed. Bring ear plugs and an eye mask if you typically find it difficult to doze in mid-air. If you still can’t sleep, rest with your eyes closed as much as possible. The relaxation will help decrease your travel stress. Taking melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone found naturally in the body, is also an option.
#3 Consume healthy foods and plenty of water.
Dehydration makes jet lag symptoms worse, so drink plenty of water before, during, and after your flight. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as they cause dehydration and can disrupt sleep. Eating a high carb or fatty diet close to bedtime can also have a negative impact on sleep, so avoid unhealthy foods if you plan to snooze on the plane. A nutritious diet also helps keep you from feeling sluggish upon arrival.
#4 Read instead of watching TV.
As tempting as it is to catch up on the latest flicks, avoid the in-flight entertainment system if you need to sleep. The blue light emitted by screens (that goes for your laptop, smartphone, and tablet too) wreaks havoc on the body’s circadian rhythm. A book is a better bet. On the other hand, if you need to stay awake in order to adjust to your destination’s time zone, watching 300 for the 300th time could do the trick.
#5 Reset your watch ahead of time.
Put mind over matter to the test. Set your watch to the local time of your destination a day or two in advance to trick your brain into thinking it’s already there. Use your reset timepiece to guide your in-flight activities.
#6 Regulate your light exposure.
Controlling your exposure to light can reboot your sleep-wake cycle. If it’s daytime when you arrive, soak up the sun to prevent your body from producing melatonin (and whatever you do, don’t succumb to the urge to nap). In general, seeking evening light helps you adjust to a later time zone while exposure to morning light can help you adapt to an earlier one.
#7 Keep busy on day three.
The first two days of a trip are adrenaline-fuelled and exciting. By day three, the full effects of jet lag and exhaustion set in. Plan for the crash by scheduling a complete day of activities in advance. Stay busy, push through the slump, and it will be smooth sailing from there on out.