Jet lag is a temporary sleep disorder that affects travelers who cross more than three time zones. In layman’s terms: It’s that time when you travel and you are tired (and awake) at the wrong times. Normally, your body knows exactly when it’s time to get some shut eye or when to be hungry. Once you start crossing time zones, however, everything gets confused and your internal clock doesn’t match your environment anymore. Jet lag can make you feel irritable, nauseated and even cause headaches and an upset stomach. It’s exactly what you don’t want on your vacation, so here are our eight tips on how to beat jet lag and make sure you’re adjusting your internal clock on the fly.
1. Adjust before you depart
Don’t just pack your suitcase prior to your trip, adjust your internal rhythm as well: Move mealtimes and bedtime closer to the schedule of your travel destination – 30 minute increments are both doable and can work wonders: When you travel from Europe to the US, for example, try to stay up half an hour longer for several consecutive nights before you depart. (On your way back, you need to go to bed earlier.)
2. Adjust some more right after you depart
As soon as you depart, adjust your watch to the time at your destination and then immediately pretend to live in the new time zone: If everyone’s asleep in your destination, try to nap on the plane. The faster you get into the new groove, the better.
3. Say ‘Cheers’!
Staying hydrated is a must – especially when flying. Make sure you drink a lot of water on the plane and keep up the hydration efforts after you land since dehydration worsens the symptoms of jet lag.
4. Take it one day at a time
5. Go West
It shouldn’t change your travel plans, but it’s a nice tidbit to know: When flying east, the jet lag is usually worse.
6. No nap for you!
Once you arrive, try not to nap for more than two hours despite your long, tiring flight and an early morning arrival (when all you can think about are naps, pillows and beds.) Distract yourself. With a walk, for example.
7. Walk it off
Walking is always a good idea, particularly after sitting on a plane for hours. Be active, do a little sightseeing and get some daylight – that’s one of the most effective ways to reset your internal clock.
8. There’s an (n)app for that
Jet Lag Rooster creates a personal jet lag plan on the basis of your location and destination, your flight schedule and your regular sleep/wake rhythm. The app then figures out when you should go out and expose yourself to light, and when you should stay in the dark. It sounds a little ominous, but can help you adjust your internal clock and reduce jet lag.