Let me just say, that I’m currently not winning at jet lag. Not even a little bit. It’s 5:30am and I’m on my second bowl of granola and I’m definitely not about to #takeontheday or #runtheworld.
There are ways, they say, ways to win at jet lag. Probably even sure-fire ways. I do, however, know where I went wrong. The always ill-advised after arrival nap (AAN). You know the one. You arrive somewhere in the afternoon and say “I’ll just rest my eyes for an hour and then be refreshed!” After hitting ‘snooze’ for 4 hours yesterday afternoon, I can tell you right now, that’s not the way.
Biorhythmic confusion is what’s happening, and the body clock doesn’t reset as easily as your watch (Or phone. Who has watches these days?).
The following are the five best ways to minimize the effects of jet lag and start off on the right foot when traveling.
1) Don’t you dare take that AAN. Not even for an hour. Rally. Rally till it hurts/it’s 9pm and then dive into the best sleep of your life and wake up nice and disoriented in your new surroundings. That’s part of the fun. Don’t think you’re about to become a morning person just because you got 9 hours of sleep, however. I’ve been tricked this way before. Your body eventually resets to its old ways. On the bright side, you can use those wee hours to see the sites before the German tourists get there (they’re known for being early risers, I’m not being prejudice), catch up on e-mails, plan your day, or write some potentially inspiring blog posts about how to avoid jet lag.
2) Get a lot of sleep the night before. This is probably super obvious, but it does help. In fact, sleep the whole way there. Sleep in the airport, sleep on the plane (or at least rest your eyes. You don’t need to see Hangover I-III at 30,000 feet or 10 episodes of the new CBS comedy), but don’t sleep when you get to your new location. Unless it’s after 9pm, then feel free. (And kudos to you for timing your travel so well!).
3) Get drunk. I mean…Hydrate. Hydration is always a good idea, especially with the ultra-dehydrating effects of air travel. Your body needs more water than you think in order to be in good balance (they say one should halve the weight (in pounds) of a person and then drink that much water per day in ounces. So, a 150 pound person would drink about 75 ounces of water which is about 2 litres or 8 cups). Trust me, after all that flying, your skin, mind, body, and soul will thank you.
4) Proper nutrients. I’ll get into this later when I talk about fear of flying, but taking your vitamins and eating well before the flight can make a huge difference on arrival health. I’m talking about your B vitamins, C, potassium, magnesium and, especially, zinc. The healthier you start out, the better you’ll feel when you get to where you’re going, regardless of the time you get there. It also helps ward off any germs/illnesses those fellow plane passengers seem to always have (I’m looking at you, hacking-sneezing-seatmate-lady).
5) If you really don’t think any of this will work, try adjusting your sleep schedule before you leave for your travels. Oddly enough, sometimes the greater the time zone difference, the better. In fact, some say their body clocks are messed up for longer with a 3-5 hour time zone shift. For example, going from Seattle to Tokyo was amazing. I felt almost no jet lag (16 hours ahead), while traveling to Virginia, it took over a week to feel normal. But that might just be me.