So, you’ve spent months planning and looking forward to a holiday, only to have some of your precious vacation days impeded by jet lag. More like, jet drag, am I right? (Sorry, I know that was terrible!)
If you want to get the most out of your overseas holiday, try some of these handy tricks to avoid feeling like a zombie when you should be having fun.
1. Prepare Thyself
This will only really work if you have the time and patience to do it. If so, read on!
In the fortnight leading up to your flight, start moving your eating and sleeping times by an hour or so every few days. Doing this will give your body the chance to slowly adapt to its new time zone.
2. Set Your Watch
Start getting used to the time difference early by setting your watch, clocks and phones to the current time of your destination. It will make it less of a shock once you get there and will hopefully help you to start adapting your sleeping and eating habits earlier.
3. Stay Hydrated
Planes are constantly pumping dry air into their cabins, which will cause you to dehydrate. If this wasn’t already bad enough, dehydration makes jet lag worse. Make sure you drink plenty of water both on the flight and during the days leading up to it. Although you may be tempted by juice, tea and sodas, make sure that water is your primary source of fluids.
4. Act Like You’re Already There
Regardless of what time it is on your flights, start behaving the way you would if you were at your destination. This shouldn’t be hard to calculate if you already changed your watch or phone settings. If it’s daytime there, try your best to stay awake. Coffee is your friend, so long as you don’t overindulge. If it’s night time, try to sleep, even if no one else is. Invest in some earplugs and an eye mask to aid you in your endeavor. If you have access to individual air conditioning, turn it up because the cold will help you fall asleep faster.
I would also recommend attempting to correlate your meals in the same way, although this may be difficult to match up with serving times on the plane.
5. Use Sleeping Pills…Wisely
If you really have trouble sleeping on a plane it may be worth trying sleeping pills, but do so with caution. They can cause a near-comatose state where your body will not have much, if any, natural movement. This can be dangerous because immobility can lead to fatal blood clots. Be sure to speak to a physician before buying sleeping pills. Also be extra careful to drink plenty of fluids if you do take pills because some are anti-histamine variations that can dehydrate you, thus making jet lag worse.
6. Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
I know I said to have a coffee to stay awake if needed, but you must keep it within reason. Having too much will dehydrate you further and also make your body even more confused once you land and have to adapt to the new time. Alcohol is also a bad idea, not only because it dehydrates you further, but its effects are stronger in the atmosphere of a plane. Do you really want to deal with an accidental hangover as well as jet lag? Hell, no!
7. Take a Shower
If you have a chance to take a shower during stop overs, definitely do it. We all know how magical a nice, hot shower can feel, but they’re also genuinely beneficial. It helps to get your muscles and circulation going again, which will make you feel a whole lot better on the next leg of your journey. Many long-haul pilots take showers to combat the general effects of jet lag after a long flight.
8. Get Outside
If you arrive during the day, be sure to get straight outside. Even if you’re feeling tired, getting out and about will help to energize you.
9. Don’t Go to Bed Immediately
Unless you arrive at night time, avoid going straight to bed. I know that getting some immediate rest is tempting, but if the sun is still shining you need to try and stay awake. Letting yourself drift off will just make it all the more difficult for your body to adapt to the time difference. It will also take longer.
Once your vacation has officially started, try doing some exercise in the morning and early evening. Working out before you start your day will get your blood flowing and the subsequent endorphins will help you to feel awake and energized. Exercising in the early evening (not right before bed) will also help you feel more tired once it’s time to hit the hay.