Tips to beat jet lag

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Here are six tips to beat jet lag.

If there’s one thing that can get your vacation off to a rocky start, it’s a bad case of jet lag. If you’re not careful, you could spend the beginning of your getaway sleeping the day away, staying up all night and/or feeling tired all the time. Luckily, you can help minimize the effects of jet lag with a little preparation. Here are six tips to beat jet lag.

Prepare before you leave

Change your sleeping schedule before you leave (Image: Gatanass used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)
Change your sleeping schedule before you leave (Image: Gatanass used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)

A few days before your flight, start adjusting your sleep cycle to get closer to the time zone you’ll be traveling to for your vacation. Start gradually by going to sleep an hour or two earlier or later each day. Even if you can’t completely get on the new time zone before your departure, the time change will be much easier to cope with if you start adjusting early. If you can’t tinker with your snoozing hours, at least try to choose flights that work with the local time in your destination. For example, if you’re flying from the East Coast to Europe, try to snag a flight that arrives in your European destination in the morning so you feel like you’re naturally adjusting to the new time zone. And set your watch to the time zone in your destination ahead of time so your brain can start adjusting.

Sleep on the plane

If you’re going to be facing a significant time change in your travels, there’s a good chance you’re going to be spending quite a bit of time in-flight. Use your flight as a way to nap so you’ll be rested when you arrive.

Water, not alcohol

Choose water over alcohol (Image: rpavich)
Choose water over alcohol (Image: rpavich)

While in-flight alcohol is tempting (especially when it’s free), it can add insult to injury when it comes to jet lag. After all, who wants to have jet lag and a hangover? Avoid alcohol and its dehydrating effects; instead, drink plenty of water throughout the flight and upon your arrival.

Stay awake

Soak up the daylight when you arrive (Image: Super Formosa used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)
Soak up the daylight when you arrive (Image: Super Formosa used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)

Once you arrive in your destination, resist the urge to crawl into the sheets of your hotel bed and sleep away the first day of your trip — unless it’s nighttime when you arrive, in which case try to get some rest. This means no daytime napping, either. If you can force yourself to stay awake for that first day, you’ll get onto a local schedule after that first night of sleep. Help your body adjust to the local time and beat sleepiness by going outside and soaking up the daylight. Stay active during your trip — exercise can help keep your body going!

Avoid caffeine and large meals

Coffee, soda, teas and energy drinks might sound like good strategies for staying awake, but the effects of these stimulating drinks can lead to insomnia when you finally try to rest your head or a mid-day crash when the caffeine jolt wears off. Eating more frequent, nutritious snacks can also help your body stay in fighting shape, whereas large, heavy meals could drag you down and increase any effects jet lag might have on your body.

Consider taking melatonin

Melatonin is a natural hormone that some specialists suggest to promote sleep. If you find yourself often having a hard time falling asleep on flights or experiencing insomnia when you arrive, chat with a health specialist about potentially taking a dose of melatonin to reset your body’s clock.

How do YOU beat jet lag? Let us know in the comments!

(Main image: RelaxingMusic used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)

Tips to beat jet lag was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Marissa Willman
Author: Marissa Willman (786 posts)

Marissa Willman earned a bachelor's degree in journalism before downsizing her life into two suitcases for a teaching gig in South Korea. Seoul was her home base for two years of wanderlusting throughout six countries in Asia. In 2011, Marissa swapped teaching for travel writing and now calls Southern California home.