Our bodies are not made to travel long distances at such high speed. That is why we probably all have already experienced the horrible feeling of being jet lagged when travelling across several time zones. Jet lag can be particularly bad if you’re on a business trip and need to get into work ASAP. We have put together a list of our best tips to fight jet lag and to be able to jump into work smoothly, without wasting too much time.
1. Start Adjusting a few days before flying
Preparation starts a few days before flying. Start adjusting to your new time zone a few days before leaving. If you’re flying east, gradually advance your bedtime earlier and if you’re flying west try to gradually delay your bedtime. Some studies have shown that this body clock re-scheduling can make the adjustment faster and easier on your body, reducing the effects of jet lag.
2. Leave home well rested
We know it can be stressful with packing and preparation a few days before travelling. It is tempting to get very little sleep the night before flying thinking you’ll sleep on the plane. However, you should try to get two good nights of sleep before leaving, especially if you fly east. Nothing beats jet lag more than being fresh and well rested at arrival.
3. Split up the trip
If you can, allow for a stopover along your route, a relaxing stopover can do wonders for your battle against jet lag. Take time to explore, relax, eat good food and have a good night of sleep before you carry along to your next flight with new energy! You’ll notice you’ll adjust much more easily to the time change and you’ll have gotten to see another destination along the way! As a bonus, this can also slash the price of your airfare.
4. Choose your seat
Even if you cannot afford business class and you’re travelling economy there are a few seats that you can choose that are better than others. Try to get maximum leg room, so you can stretch during long-hauls, and arrive more refreshed at your final destination, ready to fight off jet lag! For extra leg room try to get an exit row seat. Booking a window seat is a good idea if you don’t get up that much, if you’re planning to sleep throughout the flight and don’t want to be awakened by others getting up. Avoid seats in heavy traffic areas such as lavatories. Since many seats in the last rows don’t recline, it is best to avoid them if you want to get max comfort whilst sky high. Before booking your seat visit Seatguru for airline’s seating configurations for different flights; or ask our agents at Ahoy what is the best seat they can get you for the best price.
5. Set your watch to the new time zone
As soon as you board the plane, change the time on your watch to your destination’s local time, so you get psychologically aligned for the new rhythm. We recommend you to follow this step after boarding the airplane … or you might end up with a ridiculous excuse for missing your flight.
Wear loose, comfy clothes, bring along a neck-pillow, earplugs and an eye-mask and get ready to rest and relax. Maybe prepare a relaxing, chilled-out playlist to help you sleep and feel more at peace. Ask/bring some calming, decaffeinated tea to get you in the mood.
7. Eat right
If you’re flying west and trying to stay awake, avoid heavy meals, carbohydrate-rich food, since these can make you feel very heavy and tired. Instead, opt for more protein-rich food to help you stay awake. This will really help you with your jet lag. Now that you have your watch in line with the new time zone, try to eat according to your destination’s time.
8. Drink plenty of water & juices
Once on your flight, keep your hydration at a healthy level by drinking a lot of water. Dehydration reduces your immune system. Juices can also help you stay hydrated during your flight. Stack up on your vitamin C and vitamin B – both contributions to immune system health – to protect you from catching viruses while being sleep deprived and stressed.
9. Skip alcohol and caffeine
It can be tempting to indulge with a nice alcoholic beverage on the plane, or with a pre-flight Gin and Tonic. However, the effect of alcohol in altitude will increase tiredness and cause dehydration. This will make it even harder for you to adjust to your new time zone. Same goes for coffee and black teas, which on top of that will, of course, affect your ability to sleep.
10. Shower and change to fresh clothes
As soon as you arrive, make sure to shower, refresh yourself with a nice face wash and change to fresh clean clothes. Nothing will help you more, than feeling fresh and ready to power through a new day in a new destination.
11. Adjust yourself to the daily rhythm of your destination
We know your bed can be super attractive after a long flight, but the best way to combat jet lag is to get in the rhythm of your destination as soon as you get off the plane. Unless you arrive early in the morning and were not able to sleep on the plane and need a couple of hours sleep, you have to stay strong and resist the temptation to have a snooze! Taking a nap will only make your jet lag worse. Jet lag is mostly a mind game; do not think about it too much, do not think about what time it is at home, what you’d be doing, just be IN your timezone.
12. Plan a good walk and absorb some sunlight
Jet lag hates fresh air, daylight, and exercise. Sunlight inhibits the production of melatonin, the hormone in your body that makes you feel tired so you can sleep. Fresh air after a long flight also helps your body out since the airplane air is so dry. Doing these two things really helps you overcome your fatigue and stay awake much more easily! Being outside in the daylight can also help your body adapt to the new environment. Try to get outside in the sunlight whenever possible.
13. Stay awake until early local bedtime
As mentioned above, your comfy bed in your hotel room can seem very attractive. However, if you manage to stay awake until the early evening, rather than nap, will give you a full night of sleep leading to you feeling much better in the morning.
14. Pumped up playlist
This might sound cheesy, but this can really help you fight away your jet lag! Turn your favourite tunes on full blast in the morning, sing along and maybe even dance like no one is watching. Repeat every time you feel drowsy.
15. Eat right
Keeping your body nourished keeps your body alert. Sugary and heavy snacks can be especially tempting when you’re desperate to stay energized, and it’s easy to be misled into choosing a sugary snack to liven yourself up. Resist! Invest in your own health by eating light, protein- and vitamin-rich foods that will fuel you without adding sugar crashes to your already lengthy list of excuses to pass out. Also, be sure to eat at appropriate meal times for your new time zone. Keep hydrating by drinking water. Adhere to the standard intake of 1.5 litres per day for women and 2 litres per day for men.
16. Take it easy the first few days
If you can, plan to arrive a few days before your first meeting. This will allow your body to recover easily and faster if you have time to take it easy, and not having to rush from meetings to meetings straight away.
17. Find helpful apps
There are many helpful apps out there, on your iTunes store, which can help you get rid of your jet lag. The highest rated one is Jet Lag Rooster, which creates a custom gradual sleep-shifting schedule for every user. Just put in your flight details a few days in advance of your trip, and the app will take care of the rest.
18. Take melatonin
As last resource take pills. We really believe that nothing beats natural sleep, however, if you’ve tried everything and have had some sleepless nights then you could move to melatonin. Melatonin is the chemical your brain releases to make you sleepy. We suggest you speak with your doctor first, and of course, never drink alcohol when taking any medication to help you sleep.
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