Jet lag doesn’t have to make the first few days of your overseas trip a miserable experience. With just a few simple tips, you can quickly get over the symptoms of jet lag and make the most of your journey.
The key symptoms of jet lag are overwhelming fatigue, confusion, nausea, headache and insomnia. These symptoms can last a couple days, playing havoc with one’s ability to function effectively. I have seen jet lag cause it’s sufferers to ramble incoherently in an important business meeting, fall asleep at dinner with friends and get lost walking along what should have been a familiar street.
After over a dozen trips to Europe from the U.S., I have found that I can reliably beat jet lag within a day with these seven simple tips:
- Pick the right flight. Try to book an international flight that leaves late in the day and arrives at your destination early in the morning. This will allow you to maximize your time at home during the day as well as align your flight with your normal sleeping hours. You say you can’t sleep on an airplane? Read on; there is a solution!
- Eat before getting on the plane. The stereotypical jokes about airline food being bad aren‘t just jokes; it is truly bad and it is full of calories and low on nutrition. Instead, have dinner at the airport. Most international terminals have a decent selection of dining with prices reasonably aligned with their off-airport counterparts. Don’t overindulge on the alcohol – 1 or 2 drinks at most! The dry air on the airplane is very dehydrating and might lead to a nasty headache.
- Once you are in your seat on the plane, take a sleeping pill. This is your chance to have a ‘night’ and get some sleep. The clock is ticking down until landing, so the sooner you fall asleep, the better your chances of getting a good quantity of shuteye. Try not to waste your ‘night’ watching the movie. If you have a prescription for sleeping pills, you are set. If you do not have a prescription, there are several quality over-the-counter sleeping pills available at your local drug store.
- Put these three comfort items in your carry-on bag: your favorite warm socks, a bottle of water and a neck pillow. Yes, it is impossible to be totally comfortable when you are flying coach, but you can make it tolerable. When you get on the plane, switch out your shoes for your favorite warm socks. Right away you will feel more relaxed. Find your most comfortable position using your neck pillow and that whisp of gauze the airlines try to pass off as a pillow. You’ll be glad you have the water when you wake up in the middle of the flight, with a mouth as dry as the Sahara and not a stewardess in sight.
- Set your clock to the local time at your destination. The sooner you start seeing the local time, the sooner your brain starts adjusting its internal timekeeping to your new time zone. Change every timekeeping device you have; your phone, watch, computer. Suggestion is a powerful thing; remind yourself of the time regularly for the first couple days.
- When you arrive, go to your hotel and take a one hour nap. Be sure to set the alarm! You will not want to get up, but it is crucial to your jet lag recovery. By now, it should be mid-day, leaving you only half the day to get through until bedtime. Do some sight seeing or, go into the office if you are on a business trip. Do whatever it takes to stay awake until the local clock tells you it is bedtime.
If you follow these tips, by the second day at your destination you will be feeling much better. By the third or fourth day, you will feel like a native!
From the Editor:
- How have you beaten jet lag on overseas trips?
- How long does it take you to adjust?
- What is your flight strategy?
Tell us what you think!