How to fight jet lag and jump into a new time zone
Jet lag can put a damper on even the most anticipated trips. You don’t want to sleepwalk through the Louvre, fail to wow a client or bumble your way through the ancient ruins of Greece because you can’t keep your eyes open. And guess what? You don’t have to. You can learn to combat jet lag by harnessing your energy and getting back on a schedule, just in time for sightseeing or that important business meeting.
Schedule rest rime
If you have the time, give yourself an extra day upon arrival and your return home to reset your internal clock. If you can’t afford the extra time, schedule flights that fly overnight to your new time zone. That way, you can sleep on the plane and arrive in time for breakfast.
Properly prep for plane sleep
Some people can sleep on planes. Some people can’t. And some just haven’t done enough planning to pull it off. But since resting en route can be a critical piece to arriving refreshed, it’s worth it to give plane sleeping a sincere try.
First, determine how to nab the best seat for snoozing based on your airline. On Southwest Airlines, for example, you can pay extra to board first, which can be worth it—as long as you know where you’re going. “Southwest does not supply first class, so many passengers go straight to the rear of the aircraft for sleep,” says Judy Kaseeska, a flight attendant on Southwest for seven years. But that’s not always the best bet. “Parents with little ones also go to the rear hoping not to bother others with the babies, so if you see the gate area with lots of babies, it would be best to sit towards the front.”
To further execute your snooze plan, bring all the sleep aids you need—consider ear plugs, Melatonin, light blanket, travel pillow, a white noise app on your phone, and a scarf or hoodie for over your face.
Plan for jet lag
No matter how tired you are, try to avoid naps on the day you arrive. They’ll throw off your sleeping pattern for your new time zone. Keeping energy up throughout that first day is much easier with plenty of hydration. Kaseeska’s trick? Try to drink 12 ounces of water every hour. “It really helps,” she says.
Stick to your schedule
Keeping to your regular schedule is key, even when it comes to eating and exercising. Once on the plane, switch your clock to your new time zone and eat accordingly. Avoid sugar or non-nutritious airplane food, and instead bring your own healthy snacks loaded with protein, healthy fats and whole grains. Upon arrival, get into the sunshine as soon as you can, and wake up your body with a brisk walk or jog.
Mobile apps can help ease your shift into a new time zone. Some apps let you input your old and new times zones and offer recommendations on when to sleep, when to seek light, and when to avoid light in the new destination. Other apps allow you to start the sleep adjustments before you leave for your destination.
If you have the packing space, tote a portable light therapy lamp to really boost your sunshine time.
With planning, the right gear and a determination to stick to a routine, you can have the best trip ever—jet lag not included.
Written by Mattie Schuler
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