One of the most commonly asked questions we get as frequent travelers (and considering our name – The Jet Let Journey 😉), is how do you avoid jet lag when traveling? Jet lag can be a huge buzzkill when you arrive in a new destination and feel completely exhausted! Jet lag also happens to every level traveler. Even as seasoned travelers, we still experience jet lag. The truth is there is no true cure to jet lag, but there are ways to limit the symptoms and feel better sooner! Here are 10 tips to avoid jet lag while traveling.
What is jet lag?
Formally, jet lag is a temporary sleep disorder that can occur when you travel across multiple time zones. It happens because your body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm, gets out of sync with the new time zone. Less formally, jet lag happens when you travel to a different time zone and you feel totally exhausted!
You don’t need to fly all of the way across the world to experience jet lag. In fact, some of my worst jet lag experiences have been on shorter trips across closer time zones. Jet lag can cause a variety of symptoms and will impact every traveler differently. A few symptoms include fatigue, insomnia, difficulty concentrating and irritability.
10 Tips to Avoid Jet Lag while Traveling
There are a number of things you can do to avoid or minimize jet lag. Here are a few tips!
1. Start adjusting your sleep schedule before your trip.
One of the best ways to avoid jet lag is to start adjusting your sleep schedule before you leave for your trip. Minor changes will go a long way if you start doing this before your trip. If you’re traveling east, start going to bed and waking up one hour earlier each day for a few days before your trip. If you’re traveling west, start going to bed and waking up one hour later each day.
If taking an overnight flight, we recommend going to bed and waking up extra early the day of your flight. This way your body will be ready to go to sleep once you board your flight.
2. Set your clock to the local arrival time.
This is one of the best jet lag hacks that we love to share! If possible, adjust the clock on your phone or watch to be the current time of your travel destination. This will trick your mind all day to start operating in your new time zone.
3. If possible, get outside when you arrive at your destination.
When you arrive at your destination, get outside and expose yourself to natural light as soon as possible. This will alert your body of your new time zone and help to reset your internal clock. Natural sunlight will also give you an energy boost, which will lessen the feeling of being jet lagged!
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4. Avoid caffeine before bed.
Depending on what time you land, we recommend getting a coffee as soon as possible for energy to get through the day. But if possible, avoid caffeine in the late afternoon or evening since it will interfere with sleep. The first night of sleep after traveling over time zones is essential to kicking jet lag before it impacts the rest of your trip.
5. Stay hydrated.
Hydration is key to fighting off jet lag. We recommend packing these hydration tablets that dissolve in water to rehydrate yourself after a long flight!
6. Go for a walk.
Light exercise will help your body adjust to the new timezone and get better rest when it is time to go to bed. There’s no need to force yourself to do any sort of intense workout, but a nice walk will be beneficial to reduce jet lag symptoms.
7. Take melatonin.
Melatonin is a natural hormone that helps to regulate sleep. Taking melatonin before bed can help guarantee you will get a good night’s rest and adjust your body clock to reduce jet lag.
8. Go to bed and wake up at a normal hour.
This is probably the most important tip to avoid jet lag. You do not want to go to bed too early because you will end up waking up too early the next day. As difficult as it may be, you should try to force yourself to stay up until 10PM (if that is around your normal bedtime).
With that said about bedtime, it is just as important to also wake up at a normal hour the next day. Even if you are exhausted, force yourself out of bed, grab a coffee and get your day started!
9. Nap strategically.
If you’re feeling tired, a short nap can help to improve your alertness. Limit yourself to a max 30 minute nap to get through the rest of the day if needed. If you nap for too long or too late in the day on your first day of jet lag, it will take longer to adjust to the new time zone.
10. Make plans that you do not want to miss.
Oftentimes, the best cure for jet lag is distraction. This does not mean what you are experiencing is not real, it just means that you may need to trick your brain into feeling awake. Make plans on the day you arrive and the following day that you are excited about!
Jet lag can be a major inconvenience when you arrive at your destination feeling completely exhausted. Like stated before, it can happen to travelers of all levels, even seasoned ones. While there is no foolproof way to avoid jet lag, hopefully these 10 tips will minimize its symptoms and help you feel better sooner.