Well considering it is my blogs namesake, I suppose it is time I shared the best ways I think you can avoid a heavy case of Jet Lag. I would consider myself a fairly seasoned traveler. I probably end up on at least 10 planes a year if not more, so I’ve become very well adept to avoiding the sometimes-unavoidable Jet Lag.
I think I’ve got this down- to be fair, I don’t really remember the last time I had a bad case of Jet Lag, even when I say “I’m Jet Lagged”, I’m probably just lying so I get a little bit more sympathy when I’m just being lazy.
Now lets get something clear first… the definition of Jet Lag is; “extreme tiredness and other physical effects felt by a person after a long flight across several time zones”. So, to those folks who take that arduous 2-hour flight and are “jet lagged”- this does not apply to you.
Regardless, I have a routine down, but if you don’t, or you simply don’t travel enough to be able to develop a routine, here are my top ten tips to avoiding that pesky travel exhaustion.
NUMBER ONE: Timing is everything!
The most important thing, in my opinion, is to always know your timing and plan accordingly! Any time I take any long-haul flight that takes me over a 3-hour time zone difference, I typically like to take flights that will arrive in the late evening the day before any planned event. This way you don’t have to spend so much time trying to stay awake, you can just crash and let your system naturally restores its self. Yes sometimes you’ll have to pay for an extra night somewhere, but at least you won’t waste the day being groggy and tired.
NUMBER TWO: SLEEP!
Continuing from the previous subject; on the contrary, as many flights do go overnight and arrive the following morning- YOU HAVE TO SLEEP ON THE PLANE! I don’t care how terrified of planes you are, or how uncomfortable you are- pop a Gravol, stay awake the night before- Make it happen! It will really, really make things much more comfortable when you arrive in destination. A nice airplane nap can turn a wasted, groggy day, into a full on day of adventures. So just do it… you will be incredibly happy you did.
NUMBER THREE: Comfy & Cozy
Sometimes I get on planes and I see people in some terribly uncomfortable outfits. Tight jeans, heels, dresses, enough jewelry to sink a small rowboat, etc. I’m not saying it’s acceptable to rock up in your PJs, but it is perfectly acceptable to throw on some respectable yoga pants and hoodie. The more comfortable you are, the easier it will be to fall asleep. The easier it is to fall asleep, the easier it will be to adjust to the time difference. Be comfy- or better yet- get some “airport outfits” as I like to call them and you can look presentable and be comfy- Double whammy!
NUMBER FOUR: Drinky, Drinky!
And by drinky, drinky I’m not referring to tapping into the mini bottles of booze on the plane. What you should be drinking though is lots and lots of water. Dehydration always adds to exhaustion. The moral of the story is you want to do everything to avoid exhaustion, and to avoid anything that will prevent you from sleeping. I always suggest buying a big bottle of water before getting on the plane so you don’t have to worry about how often that cart rolls through. Also, the more you drink, the more you have to pee, which is also helpful as you want to have some movement to keep the blood circulating.
NUMBER FIVE: Stay UP!
So you can’t always find that ideal flight time that will help your body naturally adjust. That’s not all bad- but they key is, YOU MUST STAY UP! If your plane lands at 9am, and its currently 2am at home- that’s just too bad! You really have to try and stay up as late as possible! I would say minimum 9-10pm is suggested. Once getting to your destination have some coffee, keep yourself busy- doesn’t matter, but don’t pass out at 2 pm or its game over! At that point, by the time you adjust, you’ll be on your flight home. Bummer!
NUMBER SIX: A little help
As I’ve mentioned about 5 times, getting the right amount of rest is very important. Not all people get rocked to bed by the soothing shakes of turbulence like I do. So if you’re not an airplane sleeper, there are some items out there that can help. Now you should always consult with your doctor before taking any format of medication or naturopath solution- but simple things like Gravol, light sleeping pills or Melatonin can be incredibly helpful. Again, know your limitations and perhaps do a test run at home first see how it affects you- and never ever mix it with alcohol, that is just a bad scene for everyone involved.
NUMBER SEVEN: New time
Don’t wait till you get to the destination to set your watch to your new time zone. As soon as you get on that plane, set the new time. If you are on a 6pm flight going from Toronto to London, of course you may not want to sleep, but realizing it is already midnight there may be helpful. Forget about what you would be doing at home “right now” and think about what you should be doing in destination. Also, when you wake up from the sleep you should be having, it will confuse you a lot less to have the correct time.
NUMBER EIGHT: Just say no!
I get it, you have your airplane microwave dinner, then next thing you know it you’re being asked if you would like coffee or tea. The correct answer is “No, thank you” (I’m Canadian, there will be a thank you after everything I say). The last thing you need is a boost of caffeine mid flight nowhere near the destination. Unless it is a breakfast coffee and it is the morning at your arrival destination- stay away! Also, avoid caffeine all day pre-flight… make yourself tired, rather than trying to counteract the effects of caffeine.
NUMBER NINE: Pillow Packin’
Sometimes it all comes down to that little bit of extra-added comfort. There are a three key items I always, always take on the plane with me. 1) A pillow, I do not take chances with a half stuffed, disposable-cover pillow, I need to be comfy. 2) A blanket, same reason as previously stated. 3) Head phones that actually fit. Sometimes it is the simple things that really help. And as all previously stated topics, the more comfortable you are, the easier that sleep will be!
NUMBER TEN: And big stretches
Along with getting rest, in-between naps it is incredibly important to move around a little bit. Depending on the length of your flight, I would suggest some movement at least every 3 hours. If you go to the washroom, do a quick stretch along the way. Get up for a walk, do whatever. It is incredibly important to keep that blood flowing. Not only will it help your body adjust, it is also very important for health reasons, especially if you are prone to clotting, which can also be very dangerous if not moving for long periods of time. So move around