For the better part of the latter half of 2019 and the start of 2020, I’ve been doing a lot of traveling for work and a personal trip to India. A mix of long-haul flights, both quick and long in duration, I was concerned about experiencing jet lag while having to facilitate full-day meetings. Jetlag is a set of symptoms that causes a disruption to the body’s internal clock and the 24 hours of circadian rhythms it controls. While everyone has their way of dealing with jetlag, I’ve found a handful of tips that have helped me adjust to my new time zone and tackle a new day as you board that long-haul flight:
Circadian Rhythm Adjustment – I start by adjusting my sleep cycle and mealtimes according to the destination. During my flight to the destination, I only sleep according to the sleeping time of said destination. That could mean sleeping as soon as I board or having to stay awake as best as possible through the flight. It also means adjusting mealtimes to the time I would normally eat a meal at the destination. This allows the body to start adjusting before arriving. I typically pack some snacks (veggies, fruits, nuts) to manage to adjust mealtimes and I avoid eating heavy meals when you’re flying as you are stagnant for long periods of time.
Keeping Hydrated – Yes, we have all heard to drink lots of water on the flight, do you know why that is? It’s dry in the plane – 10-20% humidity versus what we are used in our natural environment of around 30-60% humidity. That means no alcohol during the flight and I bring an insulated water bottle where I ask the flight attendant to fill it up with warm or hot water which I drink out of through the flight. Best if the water is warm or hot because it will absorb more into the body.
Sleeping on Planes – It’s important to help the body get into a sleeping state. I also ensure I have an eye mask to ensure its completely black to have a deeper sleep with. I put in my earplugs (or noise-canceling headphones) to block out as much noise as possible. And I even rub a little lavender oil on my wrists as well. These are all things I would normally do at home, so it’s a consistent part of my sleeping routine. I do sometimes take melatonin and or a sleep aid to help me sleep during the flights.
Avoid naps when you arrive – I try my best to avoid naps at all costs because I have found it will extend the period to get over my jetlag. Do your best to sleep according to the appropriate time to sleep in the location you are in. That can mean the days will feel incredibly long, I try to keep myself busy to get through the day and end up going to bed a little earlier the first night. I do not recommend having coffee after 3 pm to try and stay awake, as caffeine will impact your sleep quality.
Meditation – The most useful tip I can recommend to getting over jetlag is meditating (or at least focused deep breathing with eyes closed) during takeoff and landing for approximately 15 – 20mins. Usually have a few guided meditations downloaded on my phone to listen to. When you meditate, it helps your mind relax allowing your body to relax as well. When you land at your destination, you can feel more refreshed. I can’t explain it, but I do believe this has made a big difference.
Finally, and I would say this is a bonus, once you return home to take a warm Epsom salt bath to remove all the toxins from your body and help you have a good night’s rest when it is time to sleep.
I can’t say it was one thing that helped overcome the jetlag, but I know this combination has become my regimen for future long-haul trips. Give these tips a try and let me know if you notice a difference in the time it takes to recover over your jetlag or I’d love to hear your routines I can try as well.