Flying off to beautiful faraway locales should be a dreamy experience — unfortunately, jet lag can make it a little too dreamy. As you hop across time zones, especially in a west-to-east direction, your body’s internal clock will be put off of its natural 24-hour rhythm. This is what makes it hard to fall asleep, wake up, eat and even regulate your temperature when you travel across oceans and continents.
Of course, many pioneering travelers before you have made it their mission to eradicate or, at least, improve the symptoms of jet lag. On your next trip, try putting one of the following six tips into practice. Then, step out and enjoy your time as much as possible — even with a twinge of jet lag, you’re on vacation, after all.
Switch Up Your Sleep Cycle
Perhaps the worst part about jet lag is that it hinders your sleep — or makes it happen way too early in the day. You can start to change your sleep cycle before you leave, though, in order to downplay the effects of jetlag on your snoozing. If you’re traveling west, stay up later to get in line with your new time zone; eastbound travelers should go to bed earlier. Start this as soon as possible in order to make travel and acclimation as smooth as possible.
Fuel Your Body
Airlines aren’t really in the business of preventing your jetlag. Instead, they want to serve universally liked food and drink so that the majority of their passengers are satisfied with the entire flight experience.
This means that you’ll probably be eating pasta, sweets, bread, wine… see a theme? These carbohydrates and sugars won’t give your body the long-lasting fuel it needs to make it through a long travel day. Pack your own hearty snacks and to-go meals and, of course, drink plenty of water to keep yourself fueled and hydrated throughout your trek.
Wear Sunglasses at Night
…And not just because you’re a rebel, because that’s obvious with or without them. By blocking light from your eyes with a pair of sunglasses, you signal to your body that it’s time for rest. This also helps to reset your internal clock — when your body isn’t exposed to light, it knows that it’s probably time to sleep. You can use this tactic pre-travel to help yourself prep for a new time zone, or once you get there in order to get the rest you need.
Pack Essential Oils in Your Carry-On
There are drug store-ready remedies for your jet lag, but you can also try a more natural approach on your next flight. Essential oils have a slew of uses in self-care, including the symptoms of jetlag: fatigue, dehydration, swollen joints and, of course, lack of sleep. Find the right combination of oils to treat your particular ailment and apply them as needed before, during and after your flight. They typically come in small bottles, too, which means they’ll slip right into your carry-on baggage.
After a long day of travel, you might be inclined to curl up and fall asleep in your hotel room, no matter what time of day you arrive. Obviously, a poorly timed long nap isn’t going to help you get your body on the local clock, so don’t do it. Instead, get outside and start to explore. As you walk or bike around town, you’ll get your circulation going and the oxygen flowing, which will help you feel rejuvenated and refreshed. The boost of energy will make you feel less fatigued and more inclined to get yourself on a new waking schedule, too.
Edit Your Itinerary
If you have the opportunity or budget, you might also want to update your itinerary so that it takes jetlag into consideration. Rather than flying directly across a dozen time zones — and spending hours upon hours in flight — split up your journey with layovers that allow you to acclimate along the way. If you can’t make this happen on your upcoming journey, then keep it in mind for your next cross-world voyage: your body will thank you for the gradual switch to a new time zone.
With these ideas in mind, you should be ready to make a preemptive strike on your upcoming jetlag. Now, if only you could take the same initiative in packing that bag way in advance…