Dealing with Jet Lag
How to prevent it, and how to get through it!
Before we discuss dealing with jet lag, let’s talk about what it is! You might experience jet lag if you are traveling over multiple time zones, either traveling hours in advanced, or hours behind your usual time.
Basically, the time zones mess with your internal clock. This usually doesn’t have much of an affect on you if you travel one or two time zones.
However, if you are traveling across seas for example, you might need to prepare, as it can take a huge toll on your body.
Jet lag can leave you feeling either very fatigued or it can make it difficult to fall asleep, depending on your direction of travel.
You might have stomach problems, mood changes, nausea, dizziness, or just a general feeling of not being well.
No one wants to start vacation this way! With these tips you will deal with jet lag like a pro!
Watch this video for more information on how jet lag happens!
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How can I prevent jet lag?
Dealing with jet lag doesn’t always have to be difficult! When traveling overseas, you can try to prevent jet lag by planning to arrive at your destination at night time.
That way, you can go straight to bed when you get there, get a good night sleep, and start fresh in the morning.
Some travelers may not agree with this method, but so far it has worked for us and we had no jet lag symptoms at all! Being able to go straight to bed upon arrival makes dealing with jet lag easier because you will not have to fight trying to stay awake! Plus, you can wake up the next morning and start your day fresh and energized.
However, many sources suggest arriving in the morning, and staying up all day with no naps. I, personally, need a LOT of sleep to function normally, so this doesn’t work as well for me.
Choose a way that works best with you and your body. If you only need a few hours of sleep per night, this might not be as big of a problem for you.
Here are some additional tips for surviving long flights!
You may also want to adjust your routines for a few days before travel.
For example, going to bed an hour or two earlier (or later, depending on direction of travel).
Try to coincide your schedule with the times of your destination, at least 4 days in advanced. This includes bed time, wake up time, meals, and daily medicine.
This will help the time change to be less of a shock to your body. Essentially, you are preparing your body for whats to come in the future!
You’ve heard this before- and we should all drink more water than we typically do anyway! Anytime you fly, you should try to eliminate coffee and alcohol, and drink lots of water. While you may want a cocktail before your vacation, this may only worsen the symptoms of jet lag. If you must, try to stick to only one drink, and be sure to drink plenty of water afterwards.
Being in an airplane makes you more dehydrated than on land. In fact, it is dryer than the Sahara desert, so try to hold off on the celebrations until you arrive!
Get yourself a collapsible water bottle, and fill it up at the airport water fountain to save you from overspending on water bottles from the gift shops. This is a great budget travel tip to save you hundreds, so don’t forget to bring yours! Just make sure it is empty before going through airport security.
Try to sleep!
You aren’t going to get the best nights sleep of your life, but some cat naps will help carry you over until your next nights rest. However, with the right products, you should be able to get some solid sleep in!
Here is a complete guide to falling asleep on an airplane! These tips will make it easier for you to fall asleep on an airplane, or at least keep you more comfortable.
I try to stray away from sleeping medication. Some sources suggest that taking small doses of melatonin can help adjust your internal clock.
Try to only use these if you regularly take them for sleeping, or as a last resort. If you are not used to taking them, they might make you groggy or foggy upon arrival. Like any medication, talk with your doctor and do your research!
Tips for when you arrive
If you arrive in the morning or early afternoon, you will probably be tempted to sleep. Try your best not to!
Get outside, and get in the sun! The sun will help your body recognize it is not time for sleep just yet. Going somewhere exciting and sightseeing will help distract your need for sleep.
Take a brisk walk at a nearby park, or walk around the downtown area. Getting some fresh air will help keep your body awake. Try to avoid laying down for a “quick nap”, as this can interrupt your internal clock.
Again, try not to drink coffee or alcohol as this can interrupt your internal clock. However, I don’t always follow this rule so make your own informed decisions! Drinking plenty of water will help too, especially if drinking coffee or alcohol.
It is going to be tempting to go to bed early your first night. Try to stay up until an acceptable bedtime, meaning, don’t go to bed at 6pm!
Try not to drink too much caffeine 3-4 hours before bedtime. Plan something exciting for this night to keep you motivated to stay awake. Maybe go see an exciting show or concert, or visit somewhere you have been extra excited to see.
If you can make it to 8-9pm, I would call that a success. Take it easy, and listen to your body! If you are absolutely completely exhausted and cannot make it another hour, then go to sleep. It will not make or break your jet lag if you fall asleep early, but try to stay up as long as possible.
Try not to lay down or get too comfortable. Take a quick walk around the block, do some stretching at the nearest park, or go explore!
Additionally, you may want to walk (if close enough) to dinner, instead of taking public transport or driving. Get your blood flowing, it will help keep you alert and awake!
If you feel yourself starting to yawn or get sleepy, start moving- do some jumping jacks, take a quick walk, whatever you need to do you jump start your body again.
Get on the new routine
Even if it is breakfast at home, but dinner at your destination, follow the schedule of where you currently are. I have found that taking medications and eating meals that align with current times helps my body recognize what time of day it is.
As always, make sure you discuss medications with your doctor to see if you need to make any special changes with your timing of doses!
Listen to your body
Traveling can take a huge toll on your body and mind. Make sure you listen to what you need! Take the first day easy, give yourself time to adjust, and don’t stress too much!
You don’t want to start your vacation stressed, or worse, sick. Relax, go to the beach, and schedule things that are both enjoyable and effortless. Jet lag is all temporary, so you will be back to a normal routine soon.
Thank you for reading Dealing with Jet Lag! If you have any other tips to add, please leave a comment below- we would love to hear from you!