Whether its business or pleasure jet lag puts a real damper on travel. I'm no doctor but as a seasoned traveller who regularly crosses time zones, I have developed a few helpful tricks to beat the lag. Use these tips to help experience more of your destination than your hotel room.
1) Eat On Destination time
Nearly every seasoned traveller agrees that you must adjust your stomach and metabolism to local time, the sooner the better! Even before you leave, try to move your meal schedule as close to the standard meal time in your destination. If you are going from New York to London on a 7PM EST flight, Try eating a very large late lunch about 2PM EST which would be dinner time in London. When you land in London at 7AM you will be hungry and ready for breakfast on local time.
2) When Possible Choose Newer Planes
It may sound a bit diva, but newer planes take measures to reduce known causes of jet lag. AIr pressure on planes is higher and dryer than normal air on the ground which creates fatigue and swelling. Newer planes blend outside air allowing for reduced pressure thus causing less jet lag. The lower the pressure and the more moisture in the air the less jet lagged you will be. Planes like the Dreamliner, A350 and A380 are steps in the right direction.
3) Fight For Your RIght to Be Tired
A crucial mistake travellers make is sleeping for prolonged periods of time during unusual hours. A quick nap upon arrival is a great idea but never let yourself doze for more than 45 minutes no matter how painful it may be. You need to force yourself into local time. One of the best ways to kick start this process is by exercising. Whether it's a run, a walk or a stationary bike it will get you moving. If you are going East, set an alarm and make a cup of coffee to get out of bed. If you are going West, force yourself to stay up a little later so that you aren't waking up wired in the middle of the night.
4) Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate.
Something so simple can be quite elusive while travelling. Air pressure, time zones and your coughing seat neighbor are all working against your body to fatigue it. Your best bet is to drink an excess amount of water in advance of your flight and maintain at the minimum equal parts wine/spirit to water during your trip. There is nothing on earth quite like the jet lag hangover so if you do plan to have a party on the plane ask for some water too.
5) Fly Overnight / Sleep On the Plane
Flying overnight gives you the best opportunity to wake up feeling fresh. Sleeping on the plane generally equates to sleeping at a standard local time in your destination. A 7PM EST flight from New York to London would mean falling asleep at midnight English time giving you a real shot at making it through the day. My unofficial best tip for managing to fall asleep at such an early hour of your local time is to have a "long" night the evening before your flight.