Anyone who has flown across time zones knows that jet lag can put a damper on an otherwise stellar vacation. When our bodies cross time zones rapidly, it can be difficult for them to readjust. Your body wants to sleep when your brain wants to party and vice versa. Due to this, many travelers assume their first day of vacation will be completely wasted. But you needn’t miss a moment of your well-deserved trip! Follow these 5 tips to beat jet lag so you can squeeze every ounce of fun out of your next getaway.
1.) Prepare before your flight
The most crucial step for beating jet lag is to prepare before you even leave home. About a week before your trip, try altering your bedtime by a mere 30-45 minutes a night. If you’re going to be flying east, shift your bedtime 30 minutes earlier than usual. If you’re heading west, go to bed a half hour later than normal each night until you depart. It also can’t be said enough that getting enough rest leading up to your flight will make a world of difference. Also try to avoid alcohol beforehand so you don’t risk dehydration.
2.) Choose your sleeping times properly
Some people think that if they sleep on the way to their destination that they won’t feel the effects of the different time zone when they arrive. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Before you leave, set your watch to the local time of your destination and use that as a guide for when to fall asleep. If you’ll be arriving during the day, stay awake and just rest during your flight. Then when you land, try to stay awake until your bedtime in your new destination. Take a nap on the flight if need be, but try to keep your sleep schedule consistent with what you’ll want it to resemble once you land.
3.) Things to bring on-board
If you’re hoping to catch some shut-eye while in the air, you’ll make it that much more possible if you come prepared. Pack some noise canceling headphones and an eye mask to ensure a restful slumber. If you’re a difficult sleeper, try loading some white noise onto your MP3 player to lull you to sleep. Conversely, if you’re going to try and stay awake to match your new time zone, pack plenty of gum (which helps to fight drowsiness) and electronics to keep your brain fired up. Wear comfy sneakers and walk around or do some easy stretches when you start to feel sleepy.
Not only is drinking enough water good for your body in general, it can help ward off jet lag, too. Airplane cabins are notorious for being dry and that can strip away your body’s moisture. That coupled with the pressurized cabins can make passengers feel overly tired before they even cross a time zone. While it won’t cure jet lag, staying hydrated throughout your flight will help combat that airplane drowsiness so you can stick to your above-mentioned schedule.
5.) Supplements and sleep-aids
If you are worried that you will have a hard time falling asleep (or staying awake depending on your trip,) consider some over-the-counter medications. Sleep aids like melatonin or Unisom can help relax you enough to grab some shut eye. And if you need to stay awake for your flight, don’t discount good ol’ caffeine, or energy supplements. If you need something stronger, talk to your doctor about prescribing a couple of sleeping pills such as Ambien to help with your upcoming flight. There is a variety of supplements on the market with a myriad of different side effects, so do your due diligence & research everything well before take-off.
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