5 Ways to Beat Jet Lag You Probably Haven’t Tried

sleeping on a plane

Jet lag can be the worst. It can take a few days or sometimes even longer to get over it, which means far too much time spent dealing with brain fog and fatigue when you’re trying to make the most of your trip. With countless trips crossing multiple time zones behind me, I’ve realized there’s no one perfect way to avoid it completely, but it can be minimized significantly by following these tips.

Ease Into It with a Stopover

If you’re flying from the west coast of the U.S. to Europe, for example, try to squeeze in a stopover in a city on the east coast which can help you gradually adjust to the time zone in your ultimate destination. While you’ll have to pay for another overnight accommodation, you might might up for that with cheaper airfare by choosing the right stop. Do a little research to find out which cities make the most sense, meaning they offer direct flights to where you want to go, like Washington, D.C. to Dublin, Ireland or Boston, Massachusetts to Rekyjavik, Iceland.

Gradually Change Your Sleeping Schedule

When flying east, start going to bed earlier and waking up earlier a week or two before your departure (do the opposite if you’re flying west). This can work wonders for some, myself included, but not for everyone. Those who find it too difficult to make the change should skip this tip as you don’t want to mess with your sleep schedule so much that you don’t get enough rest and feel more exahusted when you arrive to your destination. And that brings us to the next important tip…

Leave Well-Rested 

If you leave well-rested, the jet lag won’t be as bad and you’ll be better able to handle the inevitable stress of traveling.

Try to Sleep on an Overnight Flight

Most long-haul flights are overnight, so if you can get some sleep, jet lag will be eased significantly. It can be easier said than done, but it’s worth attempting the full bag of tricks. That means wearing comfortable clothing, bringing an eye mask, ear plugs, and neck pillow. Do a little quiet deep breathing or even listen to a guided meditation to help relax. Avoid alcohol and go for a cup of herbal tea instead. On that note, staying hydrated is another key to beating jet lag, so you’ll want to drink water as often as possible before and during the flight when you’re not trying to sleep (herbal tea counts as it’s caffeine-free).

Many people swear by melatonin, while others find Tylenol PM or a prescription sleep medication to work best. Keep in mind that if you take a sleep aid that will knock you out for eight hours, the flight should be of a duration that’s at least that long.

After Arrival

Once you reach your destination, resist the temptation to take a nap as it will only make things worse in the long-run. Instead, spend time outdoors. Staying as active as possible and soaking up some sunshine is a great way to stay awake long enough until a reasonable bedtime hour. If you can do that, odds are you’ll wake up the next day feeling refreshed and ready to go.

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