Planning a trip across the world? How exciting! Of course, there’s just one thing that might stand in the way of an amazing trip… jet lag. After traveling to many different time zones and dealing with awful jet lag myself, I’ve learned how to avoid it as much as possible. Here are my best tips on How to Prevent Jet Lag:
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What is Jet Lag? Can You Avoid it?
Jet lag is a circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorder. Let me break that down: your body runs on an internal clock called your “circadian rhythm.” This clock is responsible for signaling your body to do all sorts of things, like release hormones or change your internal temperature to help you wake up or fall asleep.
When you travel to a different time zone, that internal system gets thrown out of balance. Suddenly, the time outside doesn’t match the time inside your body. Your circadian rhythm becomes confused by the change, resulting in the following symptoms:
- Upset stomach
- Impaired thinking
Long story short? Jet lag is no fun, and can really get in the way of staying awake in your destination. But now that you know what jet lag is, let’s jump into how you can avoid it so you can make the most of your trip to that far-off destination!
11 Tips to Prevent Jet Lag
1. Adjust Your Sleeping Ahead of Time to Prevent Jet Lag
Get the jump on jet lag by slowly adjusting your sleeping schedule before you even hop on the plane. Here’s what to do based on where you’re going:
- If you’re headed eastward: try going to bed one hour earlier every night for a few nights before you leave.
- If you’re going west: stay up an hour later (and sleep in an extra hour if you can) before your trip.
2. How to Prevent Jet Lag: Sync Your Schedule ASAP
If you can manage it, start to sync your entire schedule with your destination. Set your watch to the local time a couple of days early, and try to adjust your meal times.
At the very least, do this as soon as you arrive. Eat and sleep with the local times, even if it’s a little uncomfortable at first. If you keep eating and sleeping on your old schedule, it’ll take much longer to overcome the jet lag.
3. Try a Jet Lag App
One of my favorite jet lag apps is Timeshifter. On this science-backed app, you simply plug in your destination and it creates a jet lag plan for you. You’ll get notification reminders to eat, drink, and get sunlight at certain times to curb your jet lag faster.
My favorite feature? The “Practicality Filter” which ensures the advice is actually easy to follow in the real world—they’re not going to wake you up at 3 am to eat just for the sake of beating jet lag a little faster.
4. Stay Hydrated to help with Jet Lag
Dehydration makes jet lag symptoms worse, so be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your flight. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as well, which will only dehydrate you and upset your circadian rhythm because of the stimulants in caffeine and the depressants in alcohol.
5. How to Prevent Jet Lag: Sleep on the Plane
This tip won’t work for everyone—you should really only get an extended rest on your flight if it syncs well with your destination. Otherwise, feel free to nap a little, but try to stay on schedule as best you can.
For example, if your flight is from 12 PM – 7 PM in your destination’s timezone, stay awake as much as you can. Get up out of your seat to stretch and visit the bathroom to stay energized. Or, if your flight is from 4 AM – 11 AM in your destination’s timezone, catch some sleep for the start of your flight and wake up a couple of hours before landing.
For more tips on inflight sleep, read my guide to sleeping better on planes.
6. Avoid Layovers When You Can
I get it: sometimes a layover is necessary, especially when you’re going a few timezones away. But as much as you can, limit your layovers! And even if you need to make a stop or two, do what you can to limit the length of your layovers.
Of course, there’s a balance—you don’t want to give yourself a 45 minute layover in a destination that’ll make you recheck your bags! Do your research ahead of time to figure out the size of the airport your layover is in, if you need to go through security again, or if you’ll need to go from one airport location to another between flights.
7. Limit Napping to Overcome Jet Lag
Once you arrive in your destinations, limit napping as much as you can. Do your best to jump right into the local schedule, no matter how tired you are. Push through to get on the local schedule—eating when they eat and sleeping when they sleep. Even if you don’t make it all the way to your normal bedtime, try to stay awake at least until the sun goes down.
And come morning, get up at a decent time. As lovely as sleeping in until 2 pm can feel, you’ll be so bummed to lose a whole day of exploring and delay your body from adjusting for even longer.
8. Soak up Some Sun to Prevent Jet Lag
Not only does getting outside in the sun feel great, it’s also an excellent way to sync your internal clock to your destination. Here’s how it works: if you’re traveling less than 8 time zones away, get outside as soon as you wake up to expose your brain to natural sunlight. It’ll start to pull your system onto your destination’s time much faster by realigning your circadian rhythm.
Going over 8 time zones away? Tread carefully with this one: your brain might confuse morning light for evening light and vice versa, because you’ve essentially flipped your internal clock. If you went over 8 time zones east: avoid morning sunlight but expose yourself to as much afternoon sun as possible for the first 2 – 3 days. And if you went west, do the opposite!
9. Ground Yourself—Literally
This one is a little out there, but even some celebrities are on board, so it’s worth a try! It’s called “grounding” or “earthing,” and the idea is that you expose yourself to the natural elements of your destination to align your internal clock faster. Supposedly, touching the earth reconnects your body to the electrons in the earth, and one study proved there are real benefits.
You can sit, stand, or lay down on fresh earth like dirt or grass, or swim in a lake or the ocean to ground yourself. Many people recommend about a half-hour of exposure. This tip is a great way to potentially avoid jet lag and see some of the local nature at the same time!
10. Keep Your Schedule Open At First
As much as you’ll want to get on the local schedule ASAP, the truth is that it takes a little time to adjust even if you follow every single tip out there. That’s why I always recommend taking it easy your first couple of days and keeping your schedule open.
Rather than packing your itinerary with lots of activities, go back to basics. Stroll around the neighborhood. Check out the local food scene or farmer’s market. Save the city tours, day trips, hikes, and more for a couple days into your trip when you’ve started to adjust to your new routine and it won’t feel like such an uphill battle!
11. How to Prevent Jet Lag: Try a Supplement
No-Jet-Lag supplements are my new secret weapon against jet lag these days. They’re a homeopathic option that helps alleviate the stress and fatigue your body experiences while traveling. All you have to do is take one when you depart, one when you arrive, and at 2-4 hour intervals while on the plane.
I love that they only use natural ingredients, plus they don’t interfere with other medications so they’re safe for everyone to use. According to the company, 75% of users said No-Jet-Lag was helpful in relieving symptoms of jet lag, and right now they’ve got thousands of positive reviews on Amazon!
There you have it, my top 11 tips for avoiding jet lag. Now tell me: how do you prevent jet lag? Have you tried any of these tricks? Drop a comment or DM me on Instagram!
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