There you are laying in bed, eyes open, mind reeling, wide awake as if it’s noon but it’s not, it is only 3am! You finally drift off then BAM you’re awake again. You look at the clock; it’s 3:15am. Are you kidding me sleep gods? Within a 24-hour period you attempt to go up a down escalator, put your shirt on inside out, feel like you need toothpicks to hold your eyes open at 3pm and crave one bad food after another. You feel like your head is permanently stuck in a sandbox. Is this really happening you think? Oh yes it is my friend because that ugly thing known as the JET LAG MONSTER has attacked you!
If you’ve done any travel out of your time zone then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Whether it’s going to your destination or returning home most of us will unfortunately experience jet lag. It doesn’t matter if it’s only a three-hour time difference or a twelve-hour time difference, jet lag seems to strike every time. Now don’t panic or do anything crazy like swear off international travel because there are definitely things you can do to ease the pain.
The five tips below are tried and tested by yours truly. I absolutely love traveling but the one thing I still find hard to cope with at times is the jet lag. I decided to tackle it head on and I’ve found some things that work for me. Some may do the trick for you, others may not but what have you got to lose, surely not more sleep right?
Stay awake when you arrive at your destination if it’s daytime
This is very important. If you don’t try anything else on this list, try this one. Go for a walk, sightseeing, shop up a storm, hang out with friends, do jumping jacks or jazzercise in your room if you have to, but avoid sleeping at all costs. Maybe you only got three hours of shut-eye on the plane or it’s midnight where you came from but really fight the urge to take a nap. That “nap” will most likely turn into seven or eight hours of sleep and then you’ve lost an entire day. Not to mention you’ll be on struggle street when it’s time to go to sleep at night in your current time zone.
Hydrate and take vitamins
Yes, these seem like basic things you may do already every day but they are even more important when you are jet-lagged. Make sure you drink plenty of water each day, load up on fruits and veggies and take supplements if you need to for a few days. I take something called Emergen-C to get extra vitamins and electrolytes in my system when traveling. It has no caffeine so you won’t experience that caffeine crash and it provides the vitamin boost your body may need.
Get back into your exercise routine ASAP when you return home
Even though you may have low energy and the thought of going for a run, getting up for boot camp, or hitting the gym sounds like the last thing you want to do, trust me when I say you will feel much better after that workout. Those happy things called endorphins released during exercise will make you feel better mentally and the physical activity will help you sleep that night. It’s a double whammy!
Go to bed at a decent hour the first couple nights
It is much easier to do this after returning home from a vacation than when you arrive at your holiday destination because you want to celebrate with cocktails of course! This can prove to be especially tough if your body clock thinks it’s morning and you should be getting up to start your day when it’s 9pm in your current time zone. Try your best to force yourself to get in bed at a decent hour. This isn’t the time to be Nancy the night owl! The later you stay up the more your body will think it should be in “daytime activity” mode.
Do some meditation, deep breathing, yoga, take a hot bath, read a book or whatever works to relax you about one hour before you want to fall asleep. This will help you get a restful night sleep. The more good sleep you get, the quicker you’ll get recover from jet lag.
Last but not least you may find you need some help to get a full night of sleep
I’ve found Melatonin to work and I like it because it’s natural. As with anything though before taking it you should consult a pharmacist or doctor to determine if it’s right for you. I’ve found if I’m able to sleep well the first few nights it’s much easier to get my body clock on the current time zone.
Some people will suffer from jet lag more than others and it also depends on how busy you are those first few days in a new time zone. If you have a day full of meetings to attend or a jam-packed schedule it will be easier to power through running on adrenalin, along with five double lattes of course. If you have nothing planned but a leisurely day, it can prove to be more challenging. The key is to keep busy or at the very least, keep your eyes open. Trust me on this one.
So the next time you find yourself face to face with that evil, relentless jet lag monster you are now armed to take it head on and beat it!
What are your tips for dealing with jet lag? We’d love to hear what works for you!