If you’re like me, you suffer from jet lag when you fly overseas or across the country. Nothing’s worse that getting to your destination and then sleeping half the day away—especially if you have limited time there—or waking up in the middle of the night with insomnia. It can take your body’s internal clock several days to catch up with the time zones you cross on your voyage. Some estimate that it takes a full day to acclimate to each time zone you cross. Here are some tips that I follow to help combat jet lag when I travel:
1. Adjust your internal clock. Gradually shift your sleeping and eating schedules to match the times at your destination. This works best if you do it for several days before your departure. Try setting your watch to the local time at your destination to help out.
2. Try to sleep on the plane. The better rested you are for your arrival, the less likely you’ll have to fight the effects of jet lag. Bring a neck pillow for the airplane or wedge your coat up against the window. Of course, a more spacious seat in business or first class would be nice too.
3. Consider taking “red eye” flights. It’s much easier to sleep on overnight flights than on ones that depart in the morning or afternoon. When you arrive at your destination the next morning, go about your day like normal.
4. Skip alcoholic beverages. It might be tempting to drink free booze on international flights, but alcohol causes dehydration, one of the biggest causes of jet lag. Plus, one drink in the pressurized cabin is much more potent than one on the ground.
5. Skip coffee. Try to avoid drinking coffee before or during your flight. The caffeine will prevent you from sleeping.
6. Stay hydrated. Try to drink 8 ounces of water every hour you’re in the air. Get an aisle seat if you think you’ll need frequent trips to the lavatory.
7. Consider sleeping pills. Check with your doctor about a prescription or pick up an over-the-counter sleep aid or a natural product like melatonin. This may help you relax and fall asleep in an uncomfortable seat. Avoid taking too much or you may be groggy when you land though.
8. Don’t go to bed too early. Once you land, try your best to stay awake as long as possible and go to sleep at the “normal” time at your destination. Go outside, get some fresh air and be active, if at all possible. Try not to nap or you might not wake up or be able to fall sleep when you go to bed that night.
Do you have any tips to add to this list? Feel free to add your thoughts to the comment section below!
Michael Figueiredo is a freelance travel writer based in Los Angeles, California. When he’s not gallivanting around the world, he’s enjoying the laid-back lifestyle and perfect weather of Southern California. So far he’s visited forty countries and territories on five continents. His goal is to see at least one new country every year! . Read more from this author