Business travelers do it. Honeymooners do it. Family vacationers do it. Every year millions of us fly long distances, but flying across multiple time zones can make it difficult to adjust to the time change when you arrive. Regardless of your reason for travel, donâ€™t let jet lag win by sapping your energy, wits or enjoyment when you land.
Here are 7 best tips for overcoming jet lag symptoms: that lethargic, dingy feeling or even headaches and nausea that comes with skipping over time zones.
Before You Travel
Get a good nightâ€™s sleep. Plan ahead so you donâ€™t stay up late packing at the last minute. Avoid caffeine the day before you fly so your body doesnâ€™t have the artificial stimulant in it. Travel Maestro tip: A well-rested mind will be your best asset when facing the stressors of travel and the sensory onslaught of your destination.
During the Flight
Fly Business Class. Without question, a lie-flat bed makes all the difference in your comfort on a long-haul flight. You can stretch out to sleep, arriving refreshed and ready to go. If you canâ€™t upgrade your seating, be sure to wear non-binding clothing or carry a change of â€śplane clothesâ€ť that will be comfortable to nap in. Travel Maestro tip: Just to be clear, I do NOT advocate wearing pajamas, sleep pants or gym clothes to the airport. There are plenty of stylish and comfortable travel clothes out there. Pack a neck pillow, eye shade, ear plugs, and a light blanket or scarf in your carry on (if you fly Business Class, these will be provided).
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. Drink plenty of water â€“ actually before, during, and after your flight to help your body adapt to the new time zone and avoid jet lag. Skip the alcohol, even if it makes you sleepy on the plane â€“ itâ€™s still dehydrating. Travel Maestro tip: Take your own snacks of water-rich foods like watermelon, strawberries, cucumbers, raspberries, and pineapple. Fill your own water bottle in the airport so you arenâ€™t dependent on the flight attendant for a drink.
Reduce blue light. Digital screens of mobile phones, laptops, and in-flight entertainment systems, as well as LED and fluorescent lighting, emit blue light. Blue light helps regulate the bodyâ€™s sleep and wake cycles and boosts alertness, but exposure can cause sleeplessness. To protect your eyes, you can wear blue light filter glasses in the airport and during flight or you can simply stow your mobile electronics. Travel Maestro tip: If you just canâ€™t spend digital-free time, the F.lux software (free for personal use) makes your laptop display adapt to the time of day. For mobile phones and tablets, use your iPhone/iPadâ€™s â€śnight shiftâ€ť mode or the Twilight app on Android devices.
When You Arrive
Be active. If nothing else, moving and stretching will work out the kinks from being relatively stationary for so long. Exercise gets your endorphins pumping which helps get your circadian rhythm dialed in and overcome jet lag. Travel Maestro tip: If you arrive before hotel check-in, take a walk around the neighborhood to get the lay of the land. hit the gym or schedule a walking tour of the local sights. Now isnâ€™t the time for napping!
Go toward the light. Make an effort to get natural light exposure, especially during sunrise and sunset. This is like the opposite of filtering blue light and helps your body resync your internal clock with your new locationâ€™s time of day. Travel Maestro tip: If you arenâ€™t a sunrise kind of person, give it a try anyway. It might just turn out to be one of your favorite â€śWhoa, this is gorgeous!â€ť moments of your trip.
Stay awake until regular bedtime (local time) when flying west. If you crossed three time zones going west, at 8:00 pm youâ€™ll feel like itâ€™s 11:00 pm. But if you go to sleep for the night then, youâ€™ll likely wake up three hours earlier also. You will have slept the proper amount of time but be wide awake in the wee hours of the morning. Donâ€™t let the jet lag win. Just tough it out until close to a normal bedtime to help speed your bodyâ€™s adjustment. Travel Maestro tip: When you do go to bed, lower the room temperature and block out light to let your body know itâ€™s time to sleep.
Each body tolerates crossing time zones differently, but some degree of jet lag is biologically unavoidable. Use these tips to force jet lag into submission and get on with your trip.
For help making business or vacation travel arrangements, contact a Covington advisor.