How to Prevent Jet Lag So You Can Enjoy Your Trip
Avoid the Mind Fog and Make This Trip the Best Yet
Traveling hundreds or even thousands of miles away from home is almost always fun and exciting, but when you have to fly through multiple time zones, jet lag can take a lot of the joy out of anyone’s vacation. For most people, that body clock doesn’t reset all that easily — and it can take a few days, or sometimes even a week or longer, for that travel fatigue to leave you.
By then, it might be time to return home.
If you’re wondering how to avoid of jet lag, know that you might not be able to prevent it completely. However, there are some tried-and-true remedies that can significantly minimize the symptoms, such as extreme fatigue and/or the feeling that you’re walking around in a fog.
Gradually Change Your Sleep and Waking Times
One of the best tips for jet lag prevention is to gradually change your sleeping pattern in the days leading up to your trip. When flying east, start going to bed earlier and waking up earlier at least a few days ahead of your flight. Do the opposite when flying west.
Depending on your work schedule, you may even want to start changing your sleep habits a week or two before your departure, gradually adjusting to the time zone you plan to be in. The closer you can get to sleeping according to the time in your destination, the less jet lag you’ll have to deal with when you arrive.
Once you board your flight, adjust your watch to the time zone you’ll be heading to and try to forget about what time it is back home.
Add a Stopover
Another tip for how to beat jet lag is to add a stopover to your travel plans. If at all possible, plan to stay here at least a day or two, which can help you more gradually adjust to the new time zone. This is especially helpful if your final destination has a time zone that is drastically different from normal.
Get Lots of Quality Rest Before Departing
Traveling can be exhausting, even if you enjoy it. Keep in mind that the better rested you are before you leave, the better able you’ll be able to handle the stress of traveling, and the less jet lag will affect you.
Avoid any big bon-voyage celebrations in the days leading up to departure, and try to enjoy at least two relaxing days before you leave. Instead of packing and running around at the last minute, plan to finish two days earlier.
Change Your Meal Times
Fast for about 16 hours before the normal breakfast time at the destination in which you’ll be arriving. For example, if you live in California and your flight touches down in Dublin, Ireland at 8 a.m., you’d begin fasting at 8 a.m. in your current time zone which would be 4 p.m. Irish time the day before.
This is said to help reset the body clock and improve sleep quality, and it’s been proven to be quite effective.
Take inventory of your current mental health while traveling so you can be aware of any potential issues — especially if prone to depression and anxiety.
Drink Lots of Water and Avoid Alcohol or Caffeine
As flying in that stuffy airline cabin is extremely dehydrating, it worsens the symptoms of jet lag. Drink lots of water to combat the effects, which will also force you to move around to get to the restroom, keeping your blood circulating, all of which will help with jet lag recovery.
As stress weakens the immune system, it can not only worsen jet lag, but make you susceptible to whatever illness may be going around. We all know that airports can be stressful, with long security lines, flight delays and so on.
Remember that worrying about it won’t do anything to help, and often makes things worse. The best thing to do is to try and remain calm and turn to natural stress relief, such as deep breathing.
Once you’re on board, you might listen to relaxing music or a guided meditation. An eye mask can help add to the relaxing effects.
Sleep on the Plane If It’s an Overnight Flight
If you’ll be flying overnight, try to get some sleep on the plane. If you have a difficult time falling asleep during a flight, try using ear plugs and an eye mask to block out light and sound.
You might also try adding melatonin (1 to 3 grams is generally suggested) in a cup of herbal (non-caffeinated, of course) tea.
Avoid the Urge to Sleep When You Arrive at Your Destination
Once you’ve arrived, one of the best jet lag treatments is staying active and awake until the normal bedtime of your travel destination. All of this will increase your odds of being able to more fully enjoy your entire vacation.