Dealing with Jet Lag

jet lag strategies[trip style = any]

Whether your time change is 3 or 17 hours, dealing with jet lag is not fun---especially when sleep is so closely tied to health. Some people can sleep anywhere at any time, but if you're not one of the chosen few (I'm not!), here are some strategies to help you deal with jet lag. A special thanks goes out my elite travelling friends Kathryn and Christina {literally, they both have elite status} for contributing to this post...

{Sometimes I approach jet lag with fear and trembling because if I don't get enough sleep, I get sick within a day or two. Yet, recently I've learned to take a figurative jet lag chill pill . If I can't sleep on the plane, I either watch a movie and relax, or close my eyes and rest. When I was in NYC this weekend, I was still adjusting to a concert of time zones from Sydney to Vancouver to New York, as a result, one night I feel asleep at 5am. Thankfully, I didn't get sick and just "went with it" sleeping in until 10am.}

Jet Lag Strategies

  • Christina gets into her new time zone right away, switching her watch and phone to the new time as soon as she gets on the plane.
  • Close your window shade.
  • At all cost, try and sleep on the plane during night flights. Noise-cancelling headphones and a serene playlist are helpful for this. Kathryn, who travels back and forth between Vancouver and Hong Kong for work, told me that even if she sleeps on and off for six hours during a 14-hour flight, it makes a big difference.
  • Find out if the flight is full, and if not, select a seat in the back of the plane where less people are likely to book. You might score a three-seat section you could use to curl-up and get some zzzzzs.
  • If you can't sleep on planes, take the rest approach. Watch a movie or close your eyes and count sheep. {Trip Styler Tip: For a more natural approach, whether I'm at home, on the plane or in a foreign land, I take a calcium magnesium pill to help me sleep. No kidding, for me, it works better than sleeping pills because calcium has a calming effect.}
  • Drink lots of water on the plane to keep hydrated {though, I limit my water intake while I sleep so my rest isn't interrupted by hourly visits to the bathroom}. Normally I try and fill an empty water bottle post-security so I have a water with me at all times on the flight.
  • This one's a no-brainer, but avoid stimulants like caffeine inflight. Once you get to your destination {especially if it's morning}, go for it.
  • Even if you're tired when you get off the plane, try to follow the patterns of the new time zone as soon as you arrive, eating and sleeping as usual.
  • Don't think about what time it is at home.
  • Getting a minimum of 5 hours (for the bad sleepers out there) those first few nights is key to adjusting quickly.
  • I once read that Gap Adventures' CEO works out before and after flying on multi-hour flights. Working out energizes you for a flight, and if you're head-bobbingly tired upon arrival, can instantly wake you up.
  • Once home, after a rest day of sleeping in and getting laundry done, get back into your home routine as soon as possible.

If you have any tried and true jet lag cures or therapies, add your comments below!

[photo by ChrisDag]