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managing jet lag

Passport? Check.

TSA fast track? Double check.

E-sim ready to go? You bet.

The only thing bumming you out about your upcoming long-haul flight? The inevitable jet lag that follows.

We’ve all been there – the exhaustion, the disorientation, and the feeling that your body clock is in a different time zone. 

…But what if I told you there’s a solution? Here are a few simple tricks that can help you manage jet lag and help you arrive at your destination feeling refreshed and ready to embrace your adventure.

It starts before you leave the house.

How to Manage Jet Lag Before and During Your Flight

Adjust Your Sleep Schedule Before Departure

Preparing your body in advance for the new time zone can reduce the severity of jet lag and help your body quickly readjust from traveling forward or backward in time.

Before your next long-haul flight, start gradually shifting your sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up an hour earlier or later, depending on your destination’s time zone.

Slowly introducing your body to the new schedule makes it less of a shock to your system and easier to get back into your circadian rhythm.

Choose the Right Travel Essentials

Sleeping on a plane can be a game-changer in combating the effects of jet lag. 

And unless you’re flying first or business class, it seems like an impossible feat.

Until now.

Pack a neck pillow (invest in a memory foam one, it’s worth it!), bring an eye mask to block out unwanted light, and a pair of noise-canceling headphones with a white noise app to drown out the cabin sounds.

With this trifecta, you’re in a much better position to create a sleep-conducive environment, allowing you to doze off during your flight and rest to help your body adapt to the new time zone.

Prioritize Comfortable Clothing

What you wear on a long-haul flight makes all the difference when it comes to sleep.

My go-to? Anything by Unbound Merino.

The clothes are incredibly comfortable, made from breathable fabrics, and loose-fitting to avoid cutting off circulation. Plus, it’s easy to layer, helping you adapt to the varying cabin temperatures.

Skip Alcohol and Caffeine

Listen.

It’s tempting to indulge in a glass of wine or coffee on your flight (I’m all for getting your money’s worth), but there is a catch.

Both alcohol and caffeine disrupt your sleep patterns and exacerbate jet lag symptoms. It also dehydrates you and interferes with your natural circadian rhythms.

Avoid both substances in the hours leading up to your flight, and choose water or herbal tea once on board to stay hydrated and enjoy a more restful sleep.

5 Ways to Manage Jet Lag After Arriving at Your Destination

Stay Hydrated

Did you know that not getting enough liquids can worsen jet lag symptoms?

While you’re in the sky, the cool, dry, low cabin-pressure air increases your risk of dehydration and causes discomfort during your journey.

That’s why it’s crucial to keep drinking water during and after your flight to counteract the effects of dry cabin air and help your body readjust to the new timezone ASAP.

Get Some Sunshine

Natural light is a powerful regulator of your body’s internal clock. 

Spend time outside in the sun at your destination to help reset your circadian rhythm.

And if you can, leave your windows open. The natural light will signal to your body that it’s time to wake up, making it much easier to adapt to your local time zone.

Stock Up on Melatonin

…Errr, what’s melatonin?

It’s a natural hormone produced by your pineal gland, and it plays a crucial role in regulating your sleep-wake cycle. 

When you’re exposed to darkness, your body naturally produces more melatonin, signaling that it’s time to sleep. However, when traveling across the world, your globetrotting can disrupt this natural rhythm, leading to jet lag. 

That’s where melatonin supplements come into play.

Take a melatonin tablet about 30 minutes to an hour before your desired bedtime at your destination. It will help signal to your body that it’s time to go to bed.

But remember to use sparingly and start with a low dose.

Melatonin is only effective as a short-term solution and shouldn’t be used as a long-term sleep aid.

Stay Active

Exercise can boost your energy levels and reduce the effects of jet lag on your body.

Schedule in a walking tour of your new destination or make use of your hotel’s gym to get your heart rate up. If that’s not possible, put on a beginner yoga or stretching video on YouTube.

Even if the activity is light, it will still have a positive effect on your body, stimulate your blood flow, and improve alertness.

Give Yourself Time to Adjust

Lastly, Jet lag is a natural response to crossing time zones.

You can follow all these tips, but you still need to listen to your body and give yourself a few days to adapt fully. Be patient with yourself and allow your body the time it needs to reset.

By giving yourself time to acclimate, you’ll maximize your chances of enjoying a jet lag-free trip and making the most of your travels.

Wrapping It Up

While jet lag is a common challenge for travelers, you can overcome it with the right strategies and minimize its impact to make the most of your long-haul journey. 

From optimizing your in-flight experience to adopting healthy habits before and after arrival, these tips will help you overcome jet lag and ensure a smoother transition into your new time zone. 

Bon voyage!

Got any tips for jet lag? Let me know in the comments below!