If you look at my Google search history "how to get rid of jet lag" will appear quite frequently. It seems like every time I hop on a plane and jump a few time zones, I'm a victim to this great traveler's curse. I always hope that I have randomly become immune to it, but sadly it's never the case and I'm usually in a fit of tired tears by the second night home. Despite my lack of time-zone adaptiveness, I have got my post-travelling jet lag routine down to a fine art, and seeing as I'm recently back from a long-haul trip, I thought it would be a good time to share.
1. Forward plan
If you learn one thing from this post, learn this. If I could get away with writing a 1 tip advice post, I'd be content that planning will solve a lot of your problems. In life. In jet lag. Both are the same as far as organisation is concerned. 9 times out of 10, you will know in advance you are traveling, yeah? Do yourself a favour and take the time zone into account whilst you plan a couple of days either side of your flight. Adjust your body clock to your destination a couple of days before you fly. As soon as I get on to a plane, I set my watch for the destination time. The sooner you get into their rhythm, the quicker you will adjust. Whilst West to East is the worst, and I mean the worst, giving yourself a day to recover is never a bad choice whatever direction you're headed. I always avoid giving myself anything important to do for the first couple of days after I land too and definitely avoid making plans for the early morning/evening because, no. What is most important though is that you remember to prepare for both ends of your journey. I think we usually forget traveling is, usually, a two-part journey and both sections are going to affect your body clock. Sounds a bit like homework but it pays off.
2. Choose a night flight
Night flights are my preference for flying West to East long haul. Not only do you get an extra day in your destination (woo!), you can also adjust your body clock and sleep, at the same time! Like I said above, I automatically adjust my watch to the time at my destination. If I have a night flight, I also set a silent, vibrate-only, alarm on my phone for a time that gives me an ok amount of sleep (4 hours+) and will let me wake up at an acceptable time in my destinations time-zone. OK so you may miss out on the in-flight films and food, but you know what? Arriving at an airport, particularly if you have a connecting flight, having had some sort of sleep beats it hands down. Personally, I need my 8 hours so 4 hours doesn't cut it, but it's also much easier to stay awake for the rest of the day on a little bit of sleep, than none at all.
3. It's all down to the lighting
Lighting effects everything. If you want to trick your body into thinking it's in a different time zone, play with the lighting. Like I said, work on the time zone for your destination. If it would be the middle of the night in your destination, slip on an eyemask, and avoid having your window open. If on the other hand, it's the middle of the day at your location, try and spend as much time as possible in light environments, preferably in the open air. Not only does this help you keep your jet lag to a minimum, it will also let you arrive at your destination fresher and ready to get your Dora the Explorer on.
4. Eat, drink but don't be merry
I sound like a scrooge, but I really think eating and drinking should be done in moderation on a long-haul flight. Personally, I'd recommend eating a light meal before the flight and drink as much water as humanly possible. I know that 99% I'm dehydrated, and dehydration makes your jet lag so much worse. Speaking of dehydration, I know it's tempting to have a glass of bubbly or a cheeky gin and tonic, but alcohol isn't going to help you stay hydrated, so it might also be worth a miss. As for food, this is just a personal preference, but there is nothing worse than being stuck on a plane bloated after a big meal, or starving, desperate for a snack. I always think if you're comfortable, you will travel a lot better and arrive fresher; you can always be merry once you get there after all.
I hate that word by the way, but it's kinda true. If you relax and stop putting pressure on yourself, you're probably going to deal with jet lag a lot better than if you're stressed about it. Apart from doing my prep, I try and let things happen as they happen. So I get jet lag? What's the worst thing? That I'm tired for a couple of days while it passes? It's not the end of the World. A lot of traveling is what you make of it, and if you try to worry a bit less, it's only going to have a positive effect on how you arrive at your destination.
So those are my top tips to survive jet lag. Nothing ground-breaking or revolutionary I'm afraid, just practical things that make the world of difference.
Do you suffer from jet lag? What are your top tips? Let me know in the comments below!