Jet lag- the mortal enemy of travelers worldwide!
The Oxford Dictionary defines jet lag as extreme tiredness and other physical effects felt by a person after a long flight across several time zones.
Those who have traveled long distances by plane may be familiar with symptoms of daytime fatigue, stomach problems , and a general feeling of being unwell after arriving at their destination.
Obviously, this is not ideal experience in any circumstance, let alone in an exciting new destination, so I’ve come up with several strategies to help limit or even prevent these symptoms entirely.
The best and least convenient way to prevent jetlag is by slowly transitioning to the new time zone before traveling. Shift your sleeping hours by an hour each day to prepare for the new daily schedule in your destination. This strategy is not always feasible (some of us have to work!) but even shifting your sleeping pattern by just a few hours can help make a difference.
During overnight flights, try to sleep on the plane. I am often traveling from the US to Europe, which means my flights tend to leave at night and arrive in the early morning. Sleeping on the plane can not only decrease symptoms of jet lag, but also make the trip feel faster. There’s nothing like falling asleep in one country and waking up in another.
Although I’m not the best at sleeping on planes, even just resting my eyes can feel restorative in the long run. I’m told melatonin tablets can help with this, but I’ve never had much luck with them.
When arriving in the new location, caffeinate if (and only if!) appropriate. I don’t always take my own advice on this because caffeine can sometimes make me crash worse than I would have without it, but it’s a helpful crutch if I’ve had a very sleepy flight heading into a long day of sightseeing.
Trust your judgement, and if a little bit of caffeine can give you the boost you need to make it through the day, take a coffee break!
For those who don’t drink caffeine, light exercise or stretching can have a similar effect.
Don’t fall asleep! When I’m taking an overnight flight, I try not to sleep until 9pm local time when I arrive at my destination- and this is coming from a die-hard night owl.
Typically I’ll be exhausted by this time and sleep like a baby, waking up in the morning to start my day with minimal jet lag.
Naps are okay, but try to sleep for no longer than an hour. Time and time again, I hear about people settling in for naps and then waking up in the early hours of the morning. This will absolutely not help with the jetlag, so make sure to set an alarm to make sure that your nap stays a nap!
The absolute most important thing to do to combat jet lag is hydrate. The plane is dry, you’re tired, and probably already dehydrated. Grab a bottle of water and chug it. It’ll make things better, I promise.