No matter what class you fly, or how comfortable your seating arrangements are, air travel will inevitably cause fatigue, popularly known as jet lag. Crossing time zones has a negative impact on our bodies which, in some cases, impedes us from functioning at the top of our abilities. The good thing is that there are ways to ensure our body and mind will return to a normal state after a long flight.
Jet lag isn’t just about adding or subtracting hours from your day. Your body needs time to adjust to its new place on the earth. Jet lag can be dealt with, and with these helpful tips, you may even be able to eliminate it from your business travels.
Pre-flight Preparation: Feeling Better in the Air & Once You Land
Getting prepared before a flight is just as important to fighting jet lag as the after-flight rituals. Some experienced travelers swear by getting acclimated with a new time zone a couple of days before they travel. Others, like Scott Wainner, Founder of Fareness, suggest that “as soon as you board the plane, set your watch to the destination time zone.” This chronological trick will help your body adjust and feel more normal once you arrive at your destination.
Long flights are a great time to get some sleep to ensure you are revived and ready for the day once you land. If you are arriving in the morning at your destination, it is highly recommended to sleep as much as you can on the plane. Delilah, a freelance writer and blogger at Fleurdelilah, swears by “exhausting yourself before you leave for the airport,” such as getting “a good workout before you leave.”
John Goodman a Public Relations and Media Placement specialist says to “avoid screen time. Turning to the glowing screen of your phone or tablet for relaxation may actually have the opposite effect.” Keeping away from bright lights while trying to sleep will not only ensure you get a better rest but it will help you function better after the flight.
Sleep masks and earplugs can work wonders on a bright and noisy flight. Blocking out as much as you can is necessary to feeling 100% once you wake up.
Staying Hydrated Before and After Traveling
Since jet lag puts so much strain on our minds and bodies, it only makes sense to take care of them by rejuvenating ourselves with one of our body’s main ingredients. Staying hydrated is one of the main factors in suppressing the symptoms of jet lag. When we fly, we tend to become mildly dehydrated due to low humidity in airplane cabins.
Before and after a flight, it is highly recommended to stay hydrated by drinking water often and carrying a water bottle with you as you travel. Executive Director at Water Cures, Jonathan Steele suggests to “take a pinch of salt and put it on the tongue” after drinking water during the day or before bed. “The salt not only works similar to a hypnotic drug, it also helps the body reboot as the water is helped to be in the body longer.” This will allow your body to hold water for longer periods of time and in turn, help you feel better once you awake.
Without water, our bodies fight to keep going and cause us discomfort in the form of headaches, dry skin, and dizziness. Water will not only help to suppress discomfort, but it will keep you feeling healthy and ready for whatever is in your path.
Being Active: Getting Sunlight, Exercise, and Fresh Air
While jet lag may increase your longing for a nap, napping is actually counterproductive. We all know the feeling of staying in bed too long and feeling more tired than you should. Staying active and going outside play a huge role in feeling good and having energy.
Once you have checked into where you are staying, consider going outside and enjoying the local scenery. This will let you experience the environment you are in, orient yourself in your new location, and also help to revitalize your body’s natural rhythms.
The sun can impact your mood and the wellness of your body. Jason Donahue, Co-Founder & CEO at Sidewalk, explains that “your body’s circadian rhythm (the natural body clock) is impacted by light in the eyes.” In the absence of light, your body creates the hormone melatonin, which is associated with drowsiness. So, as a result, Donahue suggests that when “your jet lag starts to kick in during the daytime, the best thing you can do is go for a walk outside.”
Bright light is a natural trigger that tells the body it is time to be awake. The right combination of light and exercise will work towards getting your body acclimated to its new place and rhythm. So get out into the sunlight, enjoy the fresh air, and see a historical site or two while you’re at it.
Help Your Body Readjust After an Uncomfortable Flight
Along with going outside and enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, there are other practices to get your body back to feeling 100%. Just as walking outside is a great exercise, stretching and fitness movements that you can do indoors will help you fight fatigue.
Travel and wellness blogger, Monika of Mymonpie, recommends and explains 4 simple yoga poses to cure jet lag on her blog. Yoga can be a great way to help the body readjust, relax, and get physical all at the same time.
Soaking in a hot bath can be another great way to fight jet lag. The warm water will further your relaxation, giving you more time to unwind and reboot.
Saying Goodbye to Jet Lag: Final Tips and Suggestions
When it comes to beating jet lag, there are many home remedies and rituals that veteran travelers swear by. For those business travelers who are less seasoned, though it’s important to experiment, pay close attention to how your body reacts to these tips and find which work best for you.
If you enjoy working out, don’t let jet lag hold you back. Try working out at the same time of day you would normally. Keeping a routine may be key to feeling your best even though your internal rhythm is off.
Just as staying hydrated is one of the main practices in fighting jet lag, incorporating yourself into the new time zone is crucial. When faced with the dilemma of when to eat, simply make it a goal to eat when appropriate for your new setting.
Getting your body back into the normal swing of things may take a couple of days, there are ways to mitigate jet lag’s severity. Sticking with your normal routine, while staying true to local time practices will help your body incorporate itself fully into its new environment.
Patrick is a recent graduate of the University of New Haven with a passion for writing and creating thought-provoking content. When he’s not writing he’s either watching too many TV episodes or riding his skateboard.