Flying across time zones is great for our spirit, our soul and our sense of wanderlust, yet it wreaks havoc on our internal clocks. Here are six ways to combat Jet Leg and recover faster to enjoy the adventure.
A week before, start pushing your bed time later if you’re flying west, earlier if you’re flying east to better match your destination time zone. If work allows, start adjusting your wake time as well and go into work earlier or later. If you’re flying half way around the world, it may not be convenient to shift your schedule by 12 hours, but adding or subtracting a few hours will make the transition easier.
In addition to changing your sleep patterns, changing your eating patterns a few days before will help your body adjust as well. You don’t want to wake at 3AM because your body thinks it’s 8AM and time for breakfast. Continue this on the plane. Pack snacks or save airline meals until the appropriate time. Another key factor, keep hydrated and get at least your eight glasses of water a day.
As soon as you begin your flight, set your watch to your destination time. This will let you know when you should be awake and/or asleep. If you can, on the flight, jump-start your sleep patterns by staying awake or sleeping according to your new schedule. If you should be sleeping, spring for the extra room to stretch out in Business or First Class. If you’re lucky enough to be on a flight with flat beds, we highly recommend taking advantage.
Headphones and the right content can help you sleep or stay awake. Pack noise-cancelling headphones to block out the surrounding sounds (or amp up the noise if you need to stay awake.) Think upbeat tunes or comedies to keep you awake. Alternatively, an eye mask and soothing tones (think what you might hear while getting a massage) helps lull you into sleep.
If it’s daytime when you arrive, stay outside. The natural sunlight will help your serotonin levels adjust to the time change. Physical activity such as walking will also help adjust your circadian rhythm. Consider a more vigorous activity in the mornings and even a light walk in the evening. The evening exercise will help tire you out, but be sure to do it two hours before bedtime to give your body enough time to wind down.
Keep eating according to your new schedule but be sure to choose foods wisely. A protein packed breakfast will sustain your energy throughout the day and heavier carb-rich foods will make you sleepy. Be sure to eat those in moderation, as you also want to avoid any tummy trouble while you’re on holiday. Watch your alcohol consumption before your body adjusts. While you may think it may help you sleep, alcohol induced sleep is not high quality sleep.
And finally…do not refer to ‘ it’s only 6pm back home’ as mentally you will struggle to adjust if you don’t embrace real time.