Read every line, and you’ll sleep just fine…
Let’s be very clear here: there’s no such thing as “beating” jet lag. Jet lag wins, every time, one way or another. The only appropriate title in regards to jet lag is combat. There are medically advised ways to battle jet lag, CIA tips – which virtually no one wants to follow, and super hippie wellness tips – which mostly sound like completely disingenuous ways to sell travel yoga mats. But as someone who crosses an ocean sometimes as frequently as every few days, there are ways that I combat jet lag with great success. Here they are…
Your metabolism is proven to be a significant part of jet lag. It’s why you wake up at 3am wanting cookies. If you want a head start on normalizing your body, try to adjust your eating and sleep schedules to destination time, however slightly, in the days before flight. If you’re a New Yorker heading to London, consider having a big 2PM lunch, when it’s 7PM in the UK, and maybe just a light dinner for a few days. Try to go to sleep earlier, and wake up earlier. The more you can shift your metabolism and time zones to destination time, the happier you’ll be.
Pick Manageable Flight Times
This can be a luxury, but choosing flights based on schedule can be a great way to fight the lag. Landing in a city first thing in the morning or late at night can force you to either stay awake and get up and at em’, or allow you to just give in and pass out after a long flight. If I’m flying to Tokyo, I want to take off when it’s the middle of the night in Tokyo, and sleep when they are sleeping, so that when I land I wake and experience the day (even if it’s a fight).
I thought about calling this sub headline “exercise”, but you would’ve skipped it. Ask any pilot, or frequent traveler and almost all agree: exercise – however vigorous or non, is one of the greatest factors in beating jet lag. It wakes you up or tires you out. When you land in Sydney at 9AM and want to go to sleep, get your running gear on, or at least some walking shoes and get outside. Being outside, in fresh air and natural light is the only way to reset the internal body clock. You can’t do better than a jog. And when it’s time to sleep, being physically tired helps. Plus, it’s a great way to see any given city.
Non Professional Advice
Now, this may not be approved by a single medical association in the world, but light to moderate drinking can help. If you feel too awake at 10PM upon landing in a far away city, a glass of wine or basically anything but tequila, which is an upper will help to sedate you. And yes – there is a point of no return. Getting hammered will just make it all worse. So have a glass of wine, then make way to your hotel room for a boring book to send you off for some zzzz’s.
Flying through the air in a pressurized metal tube drains the body on multiple levels. At the risk of becoming annoying to your seat mate, staying hydrated is absolutely crucial. Drink water, take vitamins, eat bananas and keep all systems as “go” as possible. Coconut water is a favorite of many a frequent traveler for the excellent hydration and vitamins.
New Generation Planes
This is another “luxury” item, but if there’s a choice, it’s always best to choose new planes. Newer generation aircraft like the Airbus A380, Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350 offer a far more natural cabin pressure. The Boeing 787 is also the only plane to use outside air, bringing fresher air around the cabin. Overall though? The Airbus A350 is the best plane for beating jet lag, if you ask us.
At the end of the day, our willpower is our best friend and worst enemy. It’s so easy to give in and nap in the middle of the afternoon, but if you do – don’t let it be longer than 45 mins. Fighting through the day, eating at normal times, getting fresh air and making it to 9PM and grabbing a great cocktail or glass of wine to send you off to blissful sleep is the perfect recipe. Fight to stay up, fight to find fresh air, even if it’s outside your office and try your best to walk, not ride to wherever you’re going.
What’s been your WORST jet lag experience?
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