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Jet lag is so frustrating. You’re all set and excited to head out on holiday but you know it’s going to hit – and hard. You don’t have to let jet lag control or ruin your vacation time, though. There are some easy jet lag remedies that can really help.
Let’s take a good look at how to avoid jet lag as well as how to recover from jet lag, regardless of where you’re going and how far away it is. How to avoid jet lag, after all, is one of the keys to a great holiday!
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Table of Contents
What exactly is jet lag?
Before we get into how to recover from or ultimately – avoid – jet lag, we need to understand what it is and look at some jet lag symptoms. Jet lag, simply, is your body’s reaction to you switching time zones. You suddenly find yourself in a place where the sun is rising and setting at different times, and your body clock is not wired for this.
You’re exhausted from the flight and suddenly it’s the wrong time of day! Jet lag is not a pleasant feeling, and these are the jet lag symptoms you can expect to experience:
- Disturbed sleep — such as insomnia, early waking or excessive sleepiness
- Day time fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Stomach problems
- A general feeling of not being well
- Mood changes
Is it worse to travel East than West?
Maybe you’ve heard the saying: “West is best, East is a beast”? Well, it’s true! We don’t have a completely definitive answer as to why this is. But the most popular theory is that it’s more physically and mentally taxing to advance your body clock (since going East is going forward in time) than it is to rewind it going West.
Speeding up your body clock is mentally confusing and physically tiring. But luckily there are some things you can do to get over jet lag faster. So, let’s take a look now at what you can do that should lead to quicker jet lag recovery.
Read next: How to survive a long-haul flight
1. Leave home well rested
So, here’s something you can do before even stepping onto the plan. Something that doesn’t involve food, drink, medication, or any clever tricks. How to avoid jet lag best is to simply get a few days of decent rest before heading out on holiday. Sleep early and get a good eight hours for a few days in a row. This will ensure that your body is totally well-rested before you fly.
Your mind will be sharp, and your body will be in a calm, relaxed state. This is one of the best and simplest methods for how to deal with jet lag.
2. Avoid arriving at night
This is a great tip for how to avoid jet lag! Obviously, it’s not always within your control. If there’s a flight that gets you in at midnight, and it’s half the price of the others, you’ll want to take it. But, if at all possible, try to take a flight that gets you in earlier in the day. This is because one of the quickest ways to getting over jet lag is a good night’s sleep.
If you land after dark, you’ll be too wired to sleep, and you have already landed after bedtime. Instead, you want to arrive early, wear yourself out, get your body ready for sleep, and then get a solid eight hours through the night. And just like that, you’re well on your way to jet lag recovery!
3. Use the flight to rest and sleep
This is easier for some and harder for others, I know. But if you can get some rest on the flight, it will help you a lot! Even just resting and relaxing with your eyes closed and some music is better than nothing. Make it easier for yourself by having a travel pillow, some noise cancelling headphones, and a blanket. Try to ease out the sound of the world.
When it comes to how to deal with jet lag, the best move is to catch it before it starts by resting along the way!
4. Use a jetlag app
If you’re not sure how to combat jet lag by yourself, let an app be your guide! Timeshifter or Entrain, for example, gives you a schedule to follow, rather than you struggling to figure out the best schedule that will help avoid jet lag. The schedules on the app have been designed by a university to provide you with the most effective routine that will lead to jet lag recovery.
5. Consider using melatonin
One of the best methods for how to get rid of jet lag is to have plenty of melatonin in your body. We all produce melatonin; it’s a hormone that basically regulates our body clocks. Taking extra melatonin is an effective way to speed up your jet lag recovery. Melatonin is perfectly natural, since your body already produces it, and is far better than relying on sleeping pills. Avoid sleeping pills completely!
One reason for this is because sleeping pills help you sleep rather than actually helping your body clock adjust, like melatonin does. Another reason is because over-reliance on sleeping pills can lead to needing a higher dose, and a higher dose can be dangerous for your health. You don’t want that.
6. Stay hydrated
Dehydration can creep up on you very easily on a flight, yet if you’re wondering how to help jet lag, hydration is key! Buy yourself a bottle of water at the airport before you board and ask for water often from the flight attendants. They’re there to help, after all!
Dehydration leads to fatigue and headaches, which you’re about to feel with jet lag, so don’t make it worse! Stay hydrated; this will relax you and keep your body regulated.
7. Get sunlight
This goes hand-in-hand with arriving before sunset. If you arrive early and expose yourself to a few hours of sunlight, it’s a great method for how to prevent jet lag. The more sunlight you get, the more your body will get used to that time zone. Then, as the sun sets, your body should start to feel tired and you can rest much more easily.
A good few hours of daylight should help to reset your body clock and prepare your body for a full night’s sleep. And, if you get that, it’s the very best way for how to help jet lag.
8. Lay off caffeine and alcohol
It may be tempting to hydrate yourself with some soda, or to wake yourself up with a coffee on your flight, but caffeine will only affect your body clock and hormone levels more. It’s best to let your body feel tired, rest if it needs to, and then push on the next day until sunset.
Relying on caffeine or alcohol to motivate you will not help at all. Your body needs to naturally follow its own rhythms and the rhythms of nature, rather than becoming reliant on alcohol or caffeine.
9. Eat right (and in line with the new time zone)
A great and simple trick for how to prevent jet lag is eating healthy and eating according to the time zone you’re now in. If you’re hungry at 3am (new time zone) then hold off until 6am. Eating at sensible times will help your body clock adjust to the new time zone it’s now in.
Going hungry a few more hours when you’re already tired isn’t fun, I know, but it’s definitely how to get rid of jet lag the fastest so that you can go on to enjoy your holiday! And when it is time to eat, make it something full of the right vitamins. Ones that boost your immune system and your energy levels. Iron, vitamin C, omega 3.
Getting some fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish will keep your body fighting fit and it’s definitely how to combat jet lag most effectively.
10. Get some exercise (to boost your endorphins)
Exercise is key, as they always say. And for more reasons than one. If you’re searching desperately for how to prevent jet lag, one of the best solutions is to simply get some exercise! For one, exercise is a great way to boost your body’s immune system. Jet lag leads to exhaustion, which leads to getting sick. Exercise is a great and easy way to combat that.
Exercise also helps boost your endorphins, making you feel less tired and sad, and more positive about everything. If you’re feeling positive, there’s less danger of getting overtired and not being able to sleep. Finally, exercise wears you out! And when you’re trying to get a full night’s sleep to combat jet lag, exercise is just what the doctor ordered!