I remember when I went to Los Angeles for a few weeks, and on my return to Italy, it felt like I had swapped days and nights. It was so hard to keep my eyes open during the day that I ended up living at night. My routine was completely off and it was a real inconvenience for me!
If you’ve ever arrived in another continent ready to explore and start feeling unexplainably tired, it’s because you are jet lagged!
Read this guide and I will tell you how to get over jet lag in the best way possible.
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What is the feeling of jet lag?
Desynchronosis, most commonly known as jet lag, is the set of disturbances experienced by those who cross multiple time zones.
It’s almost as if our body has an internal clock synchronized on a 24-hour rhythm, this is called the Circadian Rhythm. If your habits change, the rhythm gets out of phase. When the Circadian Rhythm is interrupted, jet lag side effects start kicking in.
Jet lag symptoms include difficulty concentrating, stomach problems, migraines, fatigue, daytime sleepiness, and insomnia. In short, the only positive side of this disorder is that you only experience it while traveling 😅
How do you cure jet lag?
Are you wondering how to overcome jet lag? Medication is not recommended, symptoms will eventually run their course. Don’t worry though, your internal clock will take about one day for every hour of difference to return to normal.
You can however, do things to make your body react better. Here I will explain how to get over jet lag in 12 simple and effective steps.
I. How to get over jet lag before leaving
1. Jet lag prevention: what you should know
Keep this scientific rule in mind: flying east to west is better. My trip to Los Angeles proves it. Flying from Europe to America, I had no major problems adapting to the time change. I can’t say the same when I returned. While flying west to east, America to Europe, I felt the effects of jet lag.
2. Choose the right flight
Another good tip to defeat jet lag is to choose a flight that lands at your destination during the day. The sunlight will make you feel comfortable with the new time zone. The best option would be to choose a flight that lands in the morning so you can have a whole day ahead to stay awake.
3. Beat jet lag by becoming accustomed to the time zone
You can minimize the effects of jet lag by playing ahead. How? By making small adjustments during the time before you leave, rearranging your schedule to mimic the time zone of your destination. You can do this by adjusting your lunch and dinner times by half an hour, and modifying the time you go to sleep.
To get used to the changes, you can help yourself by setting your watch to match the time of your destination. You’ll have to behave as if you were already on the other side of the world.
II. Jet lag remedies during the flight
4. Sleep on the plane
Even while you are flying to your destination, you will have to keep the rhythm. If you’re flying at night and your destination is several hours ahead, you’ll have to try sleeping on the plane. This is one of the best ways to get over jet lag.
I know this can be quite difficult, but you can help yourself by packing a travel pillow, eye mask, and earplugs with you in your carry-on bag. The pillow will support your neck in a more comfortable position. The eye mask will create darkness allowing your body to produce the sleep hormone melatonin, and the silence from the ear plugs will help you relax and sleep.
5. How to get over jet lag with water
During the flight and also after landing, one important thing to do is keep your body hydrated. Drink plenty of water because dehydration can worsen jet lag symptoms.
Hydrate yourself with water and avoid both alcohol and caffeine. Alcohol is dehydrating and caffeine has a stimulating effect. It is best to stay away from both, as they can keep you awake instead of allowing you to sleep.
III. How to beat jet lag going to, or coming from your destination
6. Avoid daytime naps
The following days after your flight, you’ll be tempted to take naps during the day to reduce your jet lag fatigue. Try not to rest if you’re feeling get lagged. Napping is your worst enemy while trying to over come fatigue! Weather you’ve arrived at your destination, or returned home, a half-hour nap can quickly turn into over sleeping. This will set you back instead of allowing you to regulate your sleep schedule.
7. Overcome jet lag by keeping active
Instead of sleeping during the day, try to keep yourself active. Distract yourself by going out in the sun, taking a walk and breathing some fresh air to restore your biorhythm. Walking will help you to stretch after all those hours sitting on the plane. The sun’s rays will encourage melatonin production and you will stay active, avoiding naps and over sleeping.
8. Jet syndrome and food
Food can be an ally to recover from jet lag. Eat foods that provide you with a high energy, such as carbohydrates. Potassium rich foods like bananas, are also very beneficial. Finally, to stay hydrated even after your arrival, keep drinking plenty of water and eat hydrating fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, strawberries, and cucumbers.
IV. How to get over jet lag – bonus tips
9. Give yourself time to recover
Don’t expect too much from your body. We’ve all been there, it’s not a big deal! For the first two or three days after your arrival, take it easy and don’t stress yourself too much. You’ll see that things will start to get better after the first few days.
10. Listen to your body
No one knows your body better than yourself. If you suspect even from past experiences that you will suffer terribly from this disorder, prepare yourself well in advance. This way, you will be ready to face the journey on the right foot and you will know how to get over jet lag.
11. How to get over jet lag on short trips
If you’re traveling abroad for a few days – and by a few I mean a maximum of 2/3 days – try to keep your usual eating and sleeping habits you had in place before leaving. Changing habits for once can be pretty stressful on your body. Worse if you have to do it twice in such a close period of time. If you keep up with your usual habits, you probably won’t feel jet lagged at all.
12. Jet lag app
There are apps with which you can create a customized program that will tell you how to overcome jet lag. You simply enter your place of departure and your destination and the app will tell you the rest. You will receive a notification when it is time to go out and expose yourself to sunlight and when to go to bed.
One app you can check out is Stopjetlag, but you’ll find many more in your App Store.
Also read: How to plan a trip – organize your journey from A to Z