While modern aviation has made it possible for travelers to explore every corner of the globe, it has brought about a unique and frustrating challenge: figuring out how to beat jet lag. This notorious beast shakes up our natural circadian rhythms and makes it difficult for our bodies to adjust to new sleep schedules.
But never fear, there are ways to lessen the effects of jet lag to ensure that you won’t spend your entire trip feeling groggy and confused. For some of our favorite tips, check out our guide below.
Sleep Well Before The Flight
One of the biggest mistakes travelers make before taking off on a long flight is putting in only a few hours of shut eye. Whether it’s from poor planning or pre-holiday jitters, this lack of sleep can seriously affect how quickly you bounce back from shifting time zones. To help beat jet lag, make sure to put in a solid eight hours before you begin your journey.
Don’t Arrive At Night
While you won’t always have control over when you arrive at your final destination, if you do, try to avoid landing at night. It might seem like arriving late would help your body settle into its new schedule by getting right to bed, but the opposite is actually true. Instead of sleeping through the night, you’re likely to wake up at 3 AM with a seriously bad headache and a dauntingly long day ahead of you.
Book A Layover
If you’ve got an especially long flight, think about breaking it up with a fun layover. Nowadays, there are a number of ways to work an overnight stay into your flying schedule, which will allow you to catch up on your Zs, explore a new city and slowly transition away from your home time zone.
Skip The Wine
A great perk of international flights is the free booze. Okay, so not everything is free, but most airlines will usually provide customers with complimentary beer and wine. With such an offer, it can be quite tempting to try to beat jet lag with a luscious slumber aided by a glass of Cabernet, but it’s important to resist. Though the alcohol might initially help with the sleep, it’ll disturb your circadian rhythms too much in the end. Instead, if you do need to sleep on your flight, focus on creating a calmer sleeping environment by getting comfortable with a travel pillow and/or sleep mask.
Ditch The Sleeping Pills
Another substance that’ll do more harm than good is the old fashioned sleeping pill. While some people are adept at using the pills to regulate their sleeping patterns, most people will find that the medicine leaves them feeling groggy and cranky once they land. Instead of helping travelers transition into a new sleeping schedule, they can actually delay the process and make it harder to beat jet lag.
The best way to beat jet lag is to push yourself to take advantage of the day for as much as you can. While you might be exhausted after your flight, try to get out into the sun and keep your body moving. This will help you get used to your new schedule and will wear you out enough that you’ll be able to put in a full night’s sleep. But if you feel like you can’t make it through the whole day, check out some of our tips for productive travel napping.