Travel Hacks 104: How to beat jet lag

Have you ever taken an 8+ hour flight and felt extremely disoriented by the time you land? Besides being stuck in a small space in high altitude for that period of time, disorientation can be caused by jet lag. Jet lag is a real thing when it comes to long distance travel. It occurs when your body crosses multiple time zones in a short period time.

I travel quite often and there are a few things I have learned about my body during flight. I have been trying new things while flying so I can feel energized once I get to my destination. Jet lag can devastate a vacation if your body does not handle travel very well. The last time I traveled to London, I tried the below tricks and it surprisingly helped my body regulate quickly so I could enjoy my time there.

The first thing I did was check the Jet Lag Advisor with British Airways. This tool helps you understand the best time to sleep and stay awake on the first day and second day that you arrive at your destination. The tool will have you enter your normal wake up time, the time in the destination when you land and the time at home. It then calculates the best times to seek light and the best time to avoid light to help your body regulate to the current timezone. You should check it out! You do not have to fly British Airways in order to use the Jet Lag Advisor tool. It’s free to use for any destination and airline that you fly.

The day before you travel, I find that it’s best to rest as much as you can. Your body will undergo a lot of stress when traveling a long distance so it’s a good idea to be well rested on the day of your journey. The essentials that I pack on all of my flights are an eye mask, airplane pillow, ear plugs, iPod with relaxing music, tea and a natural sleep aid, such as Melatonin or an essential oil.

I have a hard time sleeping on planes so I try to make myself as relaxed as possible. Often times, I will wear yoga pants and a sweater on a plane to ensure that I am the most comfortable I can be. I also try to avoid caffeine and alcohol on long flights since both can dehydrate the body.

Caffeine can be a good thing if it’s daytime in the destination that you are traveling to. I find that the more hydrated I am, the better my body assimilates to the new destination. Water is the best defense to feeling refreshed while flying. On red-eye flights, I try to bring camomile tea with me so I can have a relaxing refreshment without the caffeine. If my flight is longer than 8 hours, I will take a small amount of Melatonin to promote sleep in flight or will put some lavender oil on my forehead and at the top of my spine.

Nurse Tammy suggests that “The use of caffeine and melatonin have been studied and shown to be effective in jet lag. Caffeine is a stimulant that helps with excessive drowsiness especially during times one should be awake. Melatonin is a natural hormone that is secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. This hormone regulates our “clock”, when we wake up and when we go to sleep. Air flight can disrupt our “clock” and cause jet lag: excessive tiredness, headache, insomnia. Taking melatonin can improve symptoms of jet lag and has been studied in detail. It appears that the hormone helps with sleep during times when one is usually awake. This improves our circadian rhythm, or sleep-wake cycle.”

Once you arrive at your destination, the best thing to do is start assimilating right away to the time at your destination. Try not to look at the time back home because it will make the transition much harder. If you land and it’s the daytime, try to stay awake as long as you can to make it to early evening. If you need to take a nap, look at the Jet Lag Advisor to see when would be a good time to do that. I find that for me it’s much easier to fall asleep and stay asleep if I don’t nap at all. This helped me on my last trip. I landed at 10am and didn’t get to central London until early afternoon. Instead of laying down, I took a shower and went out to dinner with a friend. By the time I got back to my room, it was 8pm and then I went to sleep. I found that the next day, I was still tired but not exhausted so I could still get out and see the sights.

If it’s nighttime when you arrive at your destination, I would recommend a natural sleep aid to help you fall asleep. I’m sure that if you are already tired, you won’t need a supplement so maybe some tea, essential oils and soothing music will do the trick. Wearing an eye mask and ear plugs will also help with falling asleep to keep out light and noise.

According to Expat Child, “Your body generally takes one day to recover per one or two time zones. So, if your flight crossed eight time zones, you should re-adjust in about four to eight days.” This is important to know before you travel so you can prepare yourself with all of the necessary items to help beat jet lag. The biggest thing that has helped me is trying to sleep on the plane and drinking water on board.

Don’t let jet lag ruin your travels! Try these simple tips to promote relaxation, sleep and generally a better in-flight experience. See you next time!

Be bold to live free, xo Aimée

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.” – Anais Nin