Simple hacks to beat jet lag when you are a frequent flyer
How to hit snooze at 30,000 feet
Words— Kate Dingwall
No matter how many frequent flyer miles you've racked up, no one, not even "Up in the Air"'s George Clooney is immune to jet lag. The product of hazy-eyed early morning flights and time-bending international trips, jet lag brings the desperate crawl to stay awake at four in the afternoon, and a dizzying need for a long nap when you get back home.
It can be a small price to pay for a little R&R abroad, but a bad bout of jet lag can throw a wrench in vacations.
What is jet lag? It’s caused by your body’s attempt to readjust to a new time zone, and can cause fatigue, headaches, dehydration, and, of course, will throw your sleep schedule into a frenzy.
Since no one wants to hit their vacation locale and forgo the sights for a much-needed snooze, how do you keep jet lag at bay? We’ve enlisted a crew of experts to weigh in on their time-proven tips.
Predict the time change
Kaitlyn McInnis, a travel writer with bylines at Esquire, Travel + Leisure, and our Handbook, recommends flipping over to your new time zone as soon as possible. "My number one rule is: as soon as I tuck into my seat on the plane, I’m already in the time zone of whatever destination I’m heading to. If that means skipping all the plane snacks and drinks to sleep, so be it. If it means I shouldn’t sleep at all on the plane (if I’m taking a day flight from Europe to North America, for example), then I don’t allow myself to nap at all."
Naturopathic Doctor Peter Swan seconds this, going as far to suggest shifting your sleep schedule before you even take off. "Try and wake up when it is morning in the region you are travelling. Begin to eat your meals during the typical meal times of the new region. Focus on getting enough sleep and eating as well as you would hope to do at your final location and your body will be steps ahead for adjusting to the new location."
What if you’re not a plane sleeper? Maybe you’ve got a dreaded middle seat, or the deadly combination of dry air, crying babies and uncomfortable seats just don’t compare to your bed. Stock your bag to counteract as many of these factors as possible. "Noise-cancelling headphones, an eye mask, a neck pillow, and 20 to 50 mg of Onyx & Rose CBD Oil could be very helpful,” recommends Doctor Swan. As many planes are cold, consider packing a warm sweater or hoodie to cozy up in.
Don’t hit the ground running
If you know jetlag will hit you in full swing, book your schedule to allow for a softer landing. If you’re planning to hit the ground running with a day full of meetings or a fully-packed schedule of sightseeing, consider leaving a buffer day before the adventure to help you acclimatize to the time zone. Leave that day open, with sufficient time to get to your hotel, hit the pool, grab a bite, and a full eight hours of sleep before picking up a busy schedule. It’ll leave you prepared and refreshed for your first day on the road.
Soak up the sun
Vitamin D, taken either naturally or via supplement, helps to regulate the melatonin levels in your body. The sun is the easiest way to soak in the Vitamin D: lather on the sunscreen and move your nap pool-side to naturally re-energize your body.
Or, the fake sun
If the real sun isn’t an option, many frequent flyers rely on melatonin. It’s naturally produced by the human brain, and prompts your body to go to bed when it’s dark and wake up when it is bright. Melatonin supplements help adjust your circadian rhythm: a supplement can help you fall asleep on cue. If you find yourself unable to sleep on your new time zone or on a plane, melatonin is nature’s answer to sleeping pills
Hold the booze, skip the coffee
We know, we know. It may not be instinctual to pass on the coffee and skip the airport bar, but resist! Both are stimulants: the shaky side effects will only increase the effects of jetlag and leave you dehydrated.
Hydrate & moisturize
Feeling stiff and tired after deplaning? Dehydration may be the cause. Your body works at full capacity when it’s hydrated, so bring a bottle aboard and go through a few refills before, during, and after your flight. Hydration is just as important for your skin: airplanes are notorious for being of low-humidity, so moisturize, and moisturize frequently.
And if all else fails, remember where you are
"Another practice I find works really well is super cheesy, but I always travel with a gratitude journal," explains McInnis. "If I didn’t sleep on the plane or jet lag is just hitting me hard, I take a few minutes to write down what I’m grateful for about the trip and destination I’m about to explore. It usually shifts my mindset and allows me to power through any sleepiness."