Jet lag is just one of those things that are hard to avoid, period. Some timezones are worse than others depending on your usual sleep habits. For example, me going to the west coast, as someone who has an internal alarm clock of 7:30am, struggles TERRIBLY. Yet going overseas sometimes I find easier. Over the years I’ve found ways to fight jet lag to not only help stay well rested, but to ensure you don’t come down with a cold.
I’m proud to say though that in the last 2 years, I’ve only been sick once from a trip due to lack of sleep. Coachella 2016. Man did it do me in. We didn’t get home until 2 am most nights due to the grounds being 45 minutes away, and then I would be up right at 5am pretty much on the dot. So this year, I forced myself to implement one of these rules here. Get on their time FAST! So I decided to add a few days to my trip prior to Coachella this year and visit my friend in San Francisco. By going to SF first I was able to give myself 2 more days of their time zone to get acclimated so that when I headed to Coachella, I was closer to a normal sleep schedule as possible.
If you’ve got any sort of upcoming flights to a new timezone, read on for my favorite tips to staying rested and healthy!
How To Beat Jet Lag
1. Get On Their Time Zone Beforehand
So this is definitely easier said than done. But it’s as simple as, are you flying backwards or forwards and adjust a bit accordingly. If I’m heading to the west coast I usually try to stay up later than usual to try to kick my internal clock in the ass. If you can even just get yourself one good night sleep on their time zone the day before you leave, it’ll be that much easier.
2. Sleep On The Plane
Another easier said than done if you aren’t a great plane sleeper. However, if you can catch a few snoozes before your flight lands, do so. I know some people say you should stay awake if your destination is awake, but for me I just need sleep. Take that catnap and if the flight is an overnight one, definitely make sure you have a system in place to get you asleep fast. Whether it’s melatonin, sleeping pills or your favorite eye mask and sleepy music, fly prepared.
Once you’ve arrived at your destination, it’s important to get your heart rate up and maybe break a little sweat. Exercising will help wake you up, and will also likely help you sleep a little better that night too. If you can’t get a real exercise in, just being active, like walking around your destination instead of cabbing it, will help tremendously.
4. Drink Up!
Staying hydrated is key for overall health. Steer clear of that mimosa on the plane to help you sleep because your body will most definitely not thank you later. Instead, opt for water, sparkling is great, to keep hydrated. You may think more coffee and caffeine will help, but be careful! Keep the caffeine to a minimum unless you’re adding in an extra glass of water. Caffeine dehydrates you and over doing it in hopes that it will wake you up, will just make you feel worse. Dehydration makes you feel miserable, as in, ever been hungover? Exactly.
5. Get On Their Schedule
Did you land at breakfast time? Have a bagel. Did you land at 3pm? Have a snack and try to hold off until dinner. Eating habits are a big part of our routine and one of the best ways to stay on track is to eat when they do, sleep when they do. If you also typically work out in the morning or before bed, do that too. Whatever you can do to mimic your usual schedule in another timezone, get to it.
6. Take That Nap
I like to take a good Jet Lag Nap as I call them. I try to schedule mine in the mid afternoon until I really can’t keep my eyes open anymore which tends to be right around 3pm for me. But before you snooze, make sure you set your alarm! You don’t want to sleep through dinner and wake up at 8pm all bright eyed and cheery. Instead set your alarm for no more than 2 hours from when you lay your head down to make sure you get up without too much sleep. Once you get up from your nap GET UP. As in, get the hell out of that hotel room and go move around. Laying in bed is only going to make it that much harder to sleep that night so get out and get the blood flowing.
7. Eat Well
Just like drinking lots of water, putting good things in your body is key for staying healthy and feeling well. It’s super easy to feel gross after a day of traveling and eating airplane and airport food. So try to choose wisely and be sure to eat your fruits and veggies. If you don’t think you’ll have a ton of access to those things, pack your vitamins, probiotics and maybe healthy protein bars to keep your body feeling good.
PS if you have travel coming up, here are a few tips on getting through a 24 hour travel day!