Every frequent flier who travels through multiple time zones inevitably faces the doom of jet lag. This topic arose after I recently booked a trip to a health retreat in Bali. Indonesia is a hard place to get to, I have two layovers, one in Tokyo and one in Singapore, and then an hour and a half drive to the resort. The time in Los Angeles is 15 hours behind Bali, I can change my watch but my body clock has it’s own schedule to follow. Now, after crossing the Pacific, I’ll tell it to sleep when it wants to eat and tell it to dance when it wants to sleep! We all wish we could hit a “refresh” button and arrive with a glowing radiance and while it’s not that easy, we don’t need to condemn ourselves to irritable zombiedom. We have places to go and so much to see! We can’t avoid jet lag, but by following these tips we can lessen the symptoms and smoothen the transition.
1.Be Rested Before Takeoff
Get on the flight as rested and calm as possible. Meditate, breathe deeply, do whatever you need to feel serene. Before embarking on an adventure through an unfamiliar country, and most likely navigating in a foreign language, you need to have your mind sharpened and restored. Get all your work done, make sure you’re not coming home to a mess, and cover all the bases so the world doesn’t collapse in your absence. It’s tough to really live in the present when your mind is thousands of miles away stressing about whether you emptied the garbage or not.
2. Book the Right Flight
The initial move to assuring you have a great trip is to book the right flight and land at a humane time. Nothing dampens the mood of a new country like arriving in a cold airport in the middle of the night, erratic and exhausted. It might cost a little more to be choosy about your landing times, but you’ll thank yourself and have a more satisfying experience. Arriving during the time of 9am-6pm is ideal for most, you can check-in, freshen up, and have something to eat. Whether you’re ready to hit the day running or jump into that white pillowy bed, arriving at a decent time will help you harmonize while time traveling.
2. Adjust Your Watch
As soon as you board the plane, adjust your watch to your destination’s local time. Your first experience being there should be living in their time zone. If it’s morning at your destination and you’re flying red-eye, stay awake. If it’s time to sleep, you must sleep even if you need pharmaceutical assistance to do so. Every time you glance at your watch, you’re telling your subconscious what time it’s going to be and that will help mentally prepare you before landing.
3. In-flight Zzz’s
Briefly mentioned above, if it’s time to sleep at your destination, do whatever it takes to drift away. I’m not one to promote the use of over-the-counter drugs, but if you need to sleep and can’t get there naturally, this is the time to pop a pill. I bring what I call my “Jetset Junkie” kit which will be available on my website shortly and includes: melatonin, eye mask, ear plugs, compression socks, lotion and lip balm. I have a few more things in this kit but they don’t relate to sleep. Make the most of your sleeping time while on the plane to avoid taking naps once you get there. Colds and hangovers have similar symptoms as jet lag, and the best remedies are always rest and hydration. Which brings me to…
4. Stay Hydrated
The cabin air pressure is so dehydrating, not drinking enough water will leave you with a headache and dry skin. Herbal tea is also a good option for long flight sipping, it’s warmth helps put the body at ease for a peaceful journey. Staying hydrated isn’t always about what you consume, you also need to moisturize like it’s your hobby and don’t forget your lips!
5. Avoid Alcohol
Whatever you do, don’t drink alcohol on the plane. I know everyone does it in the movies and it’s supposed to make the trip more fun to go off with a bang, but that is so far from the actual truth. If you get drunk on the plane you may actually lose the battle with jet lag and could really mess up your trip. Trust me I know, been there and done that… Arriving with a dry mouth, puffy face, blood shot eyes and tasting like you won a drinking contest isn’t as lovely as it sounds. Also worth noting, be conscious about how much you consume during your trip and don’t drink on the first night!
6. Don’t Sit Still
Stretch, stroll, or squat, doesn’t matter just don’t sit still. If it’s time for you to be awake it’s best to move your body every hour to get the blood flowing. Arriving all achy and stiff is not jet-setting gracefully, and it is not the Viva Glam way. No need to jog down the aisle or anything, a good stretch will do the trick. This doesn’t only apply to air-time, once you arrive it is equally important to get at least a little physical activity every day. It’s as easy as walking while you explore the city square, medina, or beach. A nice stroll introduces you to your surroundings and allows for opportunities to experience life as a local. We all know that an important part of visiting another country is to try the cuisine, in order to fully experience a place we should all go off our diets when we get there. Another reason to keep it moving!
8. Catch Some Sunrays
Once you finally get to where you’re going, if it’s daytime go outside! Jet lag hates fresh air and daylight, sunshine is a natural stimulant that triggers your body and mind into waking up. Your body may lust for sleep, but stay strong: Refuse. Force your body’s transition to the local time by getting as much light exposure as you possibly can.
9. Relax in a Bath
After a long flight, either you’re ready to sleep face down in your oatmeal or you’re wired as a kitty on catnip. If your arrival time happens to fall at night and you’re having a hard time unwinding, instead of resorting to sleeping pills, draw yourself a bath when you get to the hotel, order room service and relax with mellow music. Don’t you dare touch that mini bar! Alcohol will only make that groggy feeling worse the following morning.
10. Rest at Sundown
It’s worth repeating, if it’s light when you land, fight the desire to waste your time and pass out. It’s certainly fine to go to sleep early on the first night but not 4pm early. A good rule of thumb, if the sun has set you can start getting cozy at your hotel.