We find that a good night’s sleep can be the difference between making or breaking a trip. When you’re crabby and drained of energy, you just don’t have the same level of excitement about everything as you would normally, and jet lag just makes that worse.
So how do you make sure that you stay feeling good when you fly halfway around the world and their 1 am Is your 1 pm? How do you beat jet lag?
Here are our top tips for how to beat jet lag, from a couple of fit travelers who know the importance of getting a good night’s rest and keeping your energy levels up!
Get Some Pre-flight Preparation Done
What could be better for avoiding Jetlag than making sure that your time zone doesn’t end up out of sync before you even fly? If you’re lucky enough to have the time – and space – try changing your internal clock before you even set off. This can be easily done by slowly moving your sleeping time either earlier or later, depending on which way around the world you’re flying. Heading east? You’ll want to go later with when you fall asleep. For the west, you’ll want to go earlier.
Of course, if you work and are too busy to make changes this drastic, there are always other options for changing your internal clock without meds…
Have You Heard of Melatonin?
Ok, so we’re kind of cheating here, but we’re also not. We said no meds and Melatonin isn’t. It’s entirely natural (if you get the good stuff) and actually helps to adjust your sleeping routine when taken in small doses over a sustained period.
A lot of sources tend to believe that they’re instantaneous. They are not. That’s sleeping pills, and you don’t want to take sleeping pills because they tend to do more harm than good for your sleep cycle (yes, Dr. Oz can be trusted on this one). Melatonin is actually a natural sleep hormone which your body produces all the time. It helps you to get to sleep and it tells your body when it needs a rest.
If you’re looking to use this to remedy your sleep woes and help you to beat jet lag, you’ll want to start taking them at least a week before you start flying. This will allow for the Melatonin to build up in your system and help make your transition period much quicker and easier.
Overnight flights are best because they let you fall asleep and then pick up almost instantaneously when you land. It’s as though you haven’t even flown. At least, that’s the idea, isn’t it?
In practice, we’ve found that it doesn’t really play out like that. Flights are cramped (and continue to get even more packed) and trying to get a wink of sleep can be awkward even on the most turbulence free of flights. There are, however, a few things you can do to make catching a nap just that little bit extra easy; one of which is by flying overnight from your departure point. Naturally, your body will want to go to sleep.
Another good idea is to invest in a high-quality travel pillow. Try looking around for those which have neck supports. Most standard neck pillows can play havoc on those with long-ish necks. A good travel pillow will have a neck brace and is definitely one of our top recommendations for how to beat jet lag whilst you’re in-flight.
Don’t Drink and Fly
Alcohol is ok in moderation, but it’s also a strong diuretic. That means that it stops your body from sucking up all the moisture you ingest into your system. We recommend avoiding it when flying – especially considering that planes are already terrible places for retaining moisture.
Other beverages which will have a similar effect include coffee and any soda drinks. That includes coke, Pepsi, and sprite. If it’s fizzy, give it a miss. You probably shouldn’t be drinking that stuff if you want to stay fit anyway! Cheeky!
Stick to fruit drinks, beverages high in electrolytes, and the always important water. We can guarantee that you will feel better after a 12-hour flight than if you settled on a glass (or two) of wine.
Trick Your Brain with a Trickle of Sunlight
Who would have guessed… sun can make all the difference. When you arrive at your destination, make sure to spend a lot of the daytime outside – or at least exposed to the sun’s rays. This will help to trick your brain into believing that it’s your natural time to get stay awake (which it is now) and help you to adjust quickly.
We tend to recommend sunny destinations for other fit travelers – probably because they’re so sunny!
When Sleep Comes…
Try to stay awake! Unless it’s sleeping time at your destination, that is. If you keep trying to sleep when it’s too early, then your sleeping pattern is never going to change. We know that it can be hard – especially when you’ve just been on a 12-hour flight and the only thing your brain is saying is ‘bed, bed, bed’ and you’re not even able to drink coffee. However, if you really want to beat jet lag without meds, holding off on sleep until it’s bedtime is important.
Jet Lag… Jet Nag
Jet Lag can be terrible if you don’t know how to avoid it – especially if you’ve just arrived at your destination hoping to get stuck into what it has to offer straight away.
Even with good preparation though, it always finds some way of sneaking in and hitting you – whether it’s the next day, or a week later. We don’t recommend doing anything too high-octane until you’ve has enough time to really settle into things. Probably the most important things for how to beat jet lag without meds if to try and relax and take things at your own pace. After all, it is your trip, isn’t it?