Jet lag happens when your body clock gets out of sync while travelling across time zones. It can leave you feeling tired and disoriented. Many people compare the feeling of jet lag to being hungover. Once you step off the plane, all you want to do is snuggle up in your bed and sleep. That might be possible in some situations, but for those arriving in their new home at lunchtime, you’ve got to find the energy from somewhere to keep going. If you travel a lot, it’s just not practical to kip every time you experience the dreaded jet lag symptoms.
Flying across multiple time zones seems to get the better of all of us. Few escape the effects of jet lag. It’s just a part of travel we’ve got to get used to, like waiting in airport lines. It’s not so bad if you’re only crossing one time zone, but if you’re travelling across multiple ones, you’re going to get it a lot worse. While there may be no magic cure to eliminate jet lag altogether, there are some useful DIY hacks to get you over jet lag, fast. And a lot of these hacks start before you fly away. Then again, that phrase ‘’prevention is better than cure’’ is no lie! We'll also show you some things to avoid that make jet lag worse.
20 The strategy to stop jet lag begins with...sleep!
There’s no point in trying to conquer jet lag the day after you get jet lag because it will be too late. You need to prepare in advance and it all starts with making sure you get plenty of sleep. Being sleep deficient will make your jet lag ten times worse, so be sure to have a few good nights of sleep before travelling. You’ll thank us for it later.
In fact, you can even get apps that will provide a bedtime schedule for you to prepare for your departure. Shifting your bedtime gradually in the few days before leaving is definitely a smart idea.
19 Fly overnight
If it’s possible, try to get an overnight flight. It’s always good to be able to adjust to your new timezone, so flying overnight is an ingenious hack for preventing jet lag when you arrive or get home. Take a sleeping mask with you on the flight and order a herbal tea onboard to get you in the sleepy mood so you’re able to catch your 40 winks. Do whatever helps you fall asleep. If you can sleep during the flight, you’ll be far more refreshed when you land and step off the plane. It will be a much better feeling.
18 Wash your face
It sounds like one of those old wives tales doesn’t it? But if you give it a try when you’re fresh off the plane, you’ll feel more awake and invigorated. You’ll be ready to continue the day without feeling that familiar urge of falling down onto your bed and napping. Wash your face with cool water and an invigorating face wash. It will work wonders!
Opt for mint or citrus hints in your wash – these are the best scents to wake you up and make you feel more alive. Alternatively, just go and take a cool shower. The water and the feeling of cleanliness will make you feel great.
17 Try downward dog
The yoga pose, in case you’re not familiar. Stretching can really help with jet lag after you’ve spent hours sitting down and all cramped up on the airplane. Unless you’re one of the lucky few to upgrade yourself to first class, the rest of us have to endure dead legs. Try a few yoga poses or stretches once you get off the plane to help ease the tension.
Stretching is known to relieve stress and tiredness. It will help you feel focused and more relaxed. It doesn’t need to be anything strenuous – just some basic stretches. In other words, it should feel good!
16 Get your caffeine fix – two coffees to be exact
Unless you are allergic or loathe the stuff, coffee is always a good solution for feeling jetlagged. However, don’t do what everyone else does and gulp down several cups in one hour. That will not get rid of your jet lag.
Stick to the two coffee rule: drink one in the morning and one during the day. This should be enough to get you over the jet lag symptoms you are experiencing. Avoid caffeine three hours before going to bed. The last thing you need is insomnia the night after flying. You need all the sleep you can get to help your body recover.
15 Don’t be a vamp – get out in the daylight
Not enough of us spend enough time in the daylight as it is. But when you travel, you’ll feel a lot more awake in the daytime. Instead of hiding away in your hotel room, get outside and get yourself some daylight. Trust us, you’ll feel way more awake than if you stay indoors.
You can also do this the opposite way around – get lots of daylight before you fly so you feel awake. Although that may not work out if you’re planning on napping throughout your overnight flight. But it will definitely have a positive effect on your biological clock if you do it after you step off the plane.
14 Pump up your playlist
There’s nothing quite like a pumped up playlist to brighten your mood and make you feel alive. Lively music really can work wonders for your energy levels. You can listen to your music while getting ready before the flight, during the flight or after the flight. When you start feeling drowsy, turn on your music and let your energy shine through.
It sounds cliché but it works. Music can make us all feel better and as long as you’re choosing cheerful, vibrant music, it should make you feel awake too. So start getting your playlist ready now and have fun doing it!
13 Pull in a power nap halfway through the day
Power naps aren’t all hype you know. They can actually make you feel amazing. During the first couple of days you might feel tired and crabby while adjusting to your new daylight hours. If you deprive your body of rest, you will only feel worse. To prevent those feelings of weakness, schedule a mini nap into the first day or two to give your body the rest it needs.
There’s no point in trying to fight tiredness – it won’t work. We’re not saying you have to sleep all day. A one hour nap in the day should energize you and leave you set for the rest of the day.
12 Drink up
Jet lag can also be the result of dehydration. When your body loses water and electrolytes, you’ll start feeling the effects of jet lag. While drinking water might sound like one of the more obvious jet lag hacks, it is nonetheless worth noting and remembering. Sometimes it’s these easy and obvious hacks that work the best and yet they seem to be the ones people forget.
It’s not uncommon for people to not realize they’re dehydrated. For that reason, it’s important to sip at water on the plane so you don’t arrive totally parched. That would be a recipe for severe jet lag.
11 A spritz of rosewater works wonders
If you’re the type of person who finds it a struggle to fall asleep on a plane, then you are going to love this jet lag hack.
One of the best ways to set the mood and relax you is to mist your face with rose water spray. Not only will it keep your skin hydrated, you’ll also find the light and gentle scent super relaxing. You’ll be sound asleep before you know it. It can also refresh you after the flight, so it’s worth misting your face at the end of the flight to rejuvenate yourself. Plus, the smell is amazing!
10 Breathe in...breathe out
Deep breathing can work wonders for your energy levels. Seeing that air travel is known to lower your blood oxygen levels because of low cabin pressure, it’s definitely good to bring yourself back to centre with deep breathing exercises. And it’s so easy! During the flight, breathe deeply in and out through your diaphragm. Make sure your exhale lasts longer than your inhale.
You can do this before the flight, during the flight and after the flight. Breathing in more oxygen will give your energy levels the boost they need and allow you to conquer jet lag. Count your breaths to make it easier.
9 Set your watch
Before you leave for your holiday, business trip or whatever, set your watch to the time of the new local time. Then try not to sleep until it’s the new local night time. This way, you’ll get your body prepared for the time difference. That’s one of the reasons we struggle with jet lag in the first place – it’s our body adjusting to the new time difference.
If you really need to sleep during your normal time, try to just snag a 30 minute nap. This will just be enough to get you by without affecting your nighttime sleep later on.
8 Melatonin supplements can help
Melatonin, as you may already know, is a hormone that regulates your body’s sleep cycles. A daily dose of melatonin can help reduce the symptoms of jet lag significantly. This hormone is extremely effective at reducing or even preventing jet lag. And the good news is, short term use of melatonin is perfectly safe with few negative side effects. Still, it is a good idea to consult your doctor if you’re considering taking these supplements.
This hormone is recommended for travellers crossing 2-4 time zones. If you are only going on a short trip, crossing 1 time zone, you won’t need to take melatonin.
7 Make the most of your sunglasses
One of NASA’s fatigue management team members, Steven Lockley, suggests wearing sunglasses during and after your flight to control your light exposure. It’s one of the most useful jet lag hacks ever.
So, let’s say you have an overnight flight from New York to London, you should try to wear your sunglasses during the entire flight so you can catch some sleep. Even when you step off the plane, keep wearing them until 11am local time. This will help you adjust easily. If you seek bright light immediately after the flight you’ll feel exhausted because your body still thinks it’s the middle of the night.
6 Adjust your eating schedule
Sleep isn’t the only thing you should adjust to prevent jet lag. You also need to think about your eating habits. "When adjusting your sleeping rhythm as a preparation for your upcoming travels, also adjust your food intake schedule, this is an important ‘cue’ for your biological clock," explains Dr. van der Helm.
Not many people think about this when they travel, but adjusting your food schedule can work wonders for lessening the effects or even preventing jet lag completely. Now that you know what does work to beat jet lag, let’s take a look at things that make it worse.
5 Don’t: choose a sunny window seat
We know a lot of happy fliers like sitting by the window so they can admire the view, but for those wanting to prevent jet lag it’s not such a good idea. Sitting by a sunny window seat will only mess up your circadian rhythm even more. If you can, it’s best to avoid it and opt for the aisle seat.
We know there aren’t so many perks to this arrangement, especially as you can expect to stand up at least twice to let your neighbor passengers go to the toilet. But it really will help your jet lag symptoms.
4 Avoid: spending too much time on your cell phone, ipad or laptop
You shouldn’t be on your cell phone during a flight anyway. Not only is it not allowed, it will also disrupt your sleep patterns. It’s a common belief that watching TV will help you fall asleep. That’s why so many people watch TV on flights. Unfortunately that’s not always the case.
Your technological devices emit a blue-spectrum light that is extremely activating and that itself can delay sleep. So if you can avoid using your gadgets during the flight, it will deliver better sleeping results.
3 Don’t: fly west
If you are willing to do anything to prevent jet lag, avoid flying west. Apparently, doing so can make jet lag significantly worse. That’s because you lose hours in your day when you travel in this direction.
As a result, your body finds it harder to catch up with itself. Gaining hours is a lot easier to adjust to than losing them. So if you are serious about preventing jet lag at all costs either try to get as much sleep as possible before your trip and during the flight, or fly in another direction – anything but west. It really works!
2 Avoid: heading straight to meetings from the airport
Some people might think it’s doable to fly overnight from the U.S. to Europe and head straight to your business meeting upon landing. In reality, it’s just not a good idea.
Yet you’d be surprised just how many people do a business presentation within a couple of hours after they arrive. When you land in a new country or time zone, it’s good to let your body adjust for the first half of the day. Let your body adjust to your new surroundings before doing anything important. The last thing you want is jet lag affecting your work. The end result might not be favorable.
1 Don’t: keep thinking about jet lag
The more you think about something the more evident it seems. If you keep thinking about jet lag and how much you want to avoid it, you are probably going to feel like you’re suffering jet lag symptoms anyway. It’s like you're fooling your mind into thinking you have it even if you don’t.
The best way to deal with jet lag is to follow the tips in this article and try not to think too much about it. Focus on your holiday instead. Think about all the exciting things you’ll do when you get there. Sometimes motivation is the best jet lag cure.
References: Goodhousekeeping.co.uk, buzzfeed.com, airhelp.com, Cochrane.org, huffingtonpost.com, nytimes.com, forbes.com