I’ve been doing a fair amount of travel lately. Luckily, I haven’t had to cross too many time zones to make it work. As a result, I’ve been able to avoid most of the problems that come with jet lag.
When you travel, though, you can’t always reduce the impact of jet lag by just traveling only one time zone away. The results are more pronounced the more time zones you cross, and if you move from west to east, since you are “losing time”
If you want to reduce the impact of jet lag, here are 5 things you can do:
1. Drink Plenty of Water
One of the most basic things you can do to reduce the chance of jet lag is to stay hydrated. Dehydration can make jet lag worse, so staying hydrated can help your body recover better. Try to avoid alcohol and caffeine a few hours before sleep, and remember that soda isn’t usually the most hydrating of drinks. Water is often the best way to keep your body well hydrated.
2. Try to Eat Healthy
It’s amazing how just taking sensible care of yourself can help you with a number of ailments. While your diet is going to prevent jet lag entirely, you will be better able to cope with irritations that come from sleep problems when you have healthy food. Do try to stay away from junk food (high carbs, high fat) before sleep, and do your best to focus on healthy options.
3. Get on the Local Schedule When You Arrive
Instead of acting like you’re still at home, consider working on adapting to the local time as soon as possible. One thing you can do is look at the local time at your destination while you are on the plane, and then try to do what you can to engage in activities that are consistent. This can help you adjust sooner. So, if it is night where you expect to land, try sleeping. If you can’t sleep, do something low-key like read or find some other way to rest.
Once you are on the ground, try to behave on the local time. So, if you get there at dinner time, go and eat (this means that you should plan ahead and not eat as much on the plane). If it’s bed time, try to go to sleep. The idea is to get into your rhythm as quickly as possible.
4. Get Moving
Appropriate movement can also help. If you are on a long flight, get up and walk a little bit. Stretch. When you arrive at your destination, light exercise can help you perk up if you need to stay awake for a few more hours before bedtime. Just make sure you don’t overdo it. If you are sore from travel, some stretching and a hot bath before bed can help you reduce soreness and send you off to sleep to help you recover from jet lag.
5. Start Adjusting Your Travel Before You Leave
If you are just flying across one or two time zones, you probably don’t need prepare in advance. However, if you flying around the world, and there will be a big shift, it can make sense to start preparing a few days ahead of time. Move your sleeping and eating schedules by an hour each day to accommodate so that you don’t have as much adjusting to do when you arrive at your destination.
With a little planning ahead, and a commitment to take care of yourself, chances are that you should be able to reduce some of the effects jet lag can have on you.