Whether it’s for business or pleasure, traveling is fun and exciting… at least most of the time. What’s not to love about seeing a new place, checking out cool sights, and changing up your routine?
It’s all pretty invigorating, especially if you’ve been stuck in a rut for a while. Butttttt, there are parts of traveling that are not so fun. The further you go, the harder it can be. One of the biggest obstacles?
Anticipating the symptoms of jet lag can put a damper on even the most fun vacation, but knowing how to beat it can save the day.
Even the prestigious Mayo Clinic considers jet lag an actual disorder.
Better understand jet lag, its effects, and how you can beat it.
What is jet lag?
Jet lag is the term used to describe the physical and mental fatigue that comes from traveling to a different time zone. It lasts longer the further from your normal time zone you are, since you’re experiencing increasingly drastic shifts to your internal clock.
The most common symptoms of jet lag are fatigue, disturbed sleep (either having trouble sleeping at night or wanting to sleep during the day), and difficulty with concentration and mental function. Jet lag may also cause symptoms like stomach problems, headache, and mood changes.
People experience and deal with jet lag differently, so there’s no real way to know how long it will last. Some people can adapt quickly to travel, but others need more time. We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you have big plans when you travel, it may be hard to keep up with them, since you won’t necessarily have time to let your body adjust to the new time zone. When that happens, it’s important to have plenty of tools to help you beat that jet lag!
Why Jet Lag is a Problem
Sometimes, jet lag is no biggie. If you’re on vacation and have plenty of down time planned, you may not have to worry as much about your body being in a different time zone. But if you’re on a work trip or have a schedule to stick to, jet lag might be a much bigger problem.
Jet lag, also called desynchronosis or flight fatigue, is basically your body clock having to adjust to the different time zones you’re in. You’re tired during the day and wide awake at night. And since you’re not sleeping well, you might experience additional symptoms, like a persistent mental fog or trouble concentrating and functioning.
Unfortunately, you can’t just tell your body to get over jet lag — even when you are on a busy business trip. If you don’t have time to let your body adjust, it’s time to take matters into your own hands and figure how to beat jet lag in a way that works for you.
6 Hacks for How to Beat Jet Lag
First, keep an eye on how your body reacts to jet lag symptoms.
Pay attention to what works for you.
Test out different techniques so you can develop a system that minimizes the effects of jet lag on your body. Hopefully, you’ll land on the right approach ASAP so you can be functional more quickly!.
Here are some things that might work for you.
1) Stick to your schedule.
When you’re experiencing jet lag, it’s tough to adjust to that pesky new time zone! Your body thinks it’s still in the old time zone, no matter what the clock says.
Try to stick to your schedule based on where you are rather than where you were. If you usually get up at 7:00 a.m., set your alarm at 7:00 a.m. (local time)… and actually get up! Keeping your regular schedule will help your body fall into its natural routines, which should help you beat jet lag more quickly. You should also stick to your usual bedtime. The body works better with routine, so if you maintain your schedule, your body will learn to pick up on natural cues.
Here are some additional tips on how to actually stay on schedule.
2) Be careful about what you eat and drink.
Caffeine can impact your body (no matter how hard you try to convince yourself otherwise). Don’t indulge in caffeinated drinks after mid-afternoon. You need all factors on your side when it’s time to stick to your usual bedtime in a new time zone.
It’s also key to stay hydrated when you’re traveling. Jet lag can make you feel unwell — and dehydration will only make it worse. Drink plenty of water to keep your body in good health to effectively combat jet lag.
You should also keep to your normal meal schedule. If you eat four or five small meals throughout the day at home, keep doing that. If you have a snack two hours before bed, don’t skip it when you travel. If you focus on clean eating at home, don’t go too crazy when you’re traveling. It’s all about consistency! This will help your body stick to its routine and keep it functioning normally and at its best.
3) Create a sleep-friendly environment.
Your environment has a big impact on your sleep. If you’re not quite tired and you’re trying to fall asleep in a room that has too much light or is the wrong temperature, it’s going to be that much more difficult to adjust to the new time zone. Make sure your room is comfortable and dark. Take the time to wind down before you lay down to go to sleep. Stay as close to your normal bedtime routine as you can. These things will help signal your body that it’s time to sleep. Studies have also suggested that avoiding white and blue lights (especially from your mobile devices) close to bedtime can help your body sleep better, so stash that phone when it’s time for sleep!
4) Try melatonin.
Melatonin — which is available over-the-counter — might be useful for beating jet lag, too. This hormone naturally occurs in the body and is its signal that it’s time to sleep.
Since your body might not think it’s bedtime when you get into bed in a different time zone, it might need a little help.
Take melatonin to get the same effect as the natural hormone.
Sleep.org does point out that melatonin supplements can negatively interact with many various medications, so be sure to check with your doctor before taking this sleep aid.
5) Find jet lag products that work for you.
There are lots of products available in stores to help beat jet lag symptoms. Find what’s most effective for you.
The Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask, for example, is a face cream that nourishes your skin and helps you look your best, even if you’re still feeling tired. If you’re traveling for business and have a meeting, products like this can keep you going while your body is still trying to catch up to the new time zone.
Don’t forget to read labels carefully!
And please resist the urge to try everything at once in hopes that something will work. Doing too much can be counterproductive
6) Keep up with your regular exercise routine.
It’s tricky to keep up with exercise when you’re tired and on the go, but a sweat session might actually help you beat jet lag. If exercise is part of your regular routine, make sure you do as much of your workout regimen as possible as you travel.
Exercise is also a good way to channel your body’s energy so you can be ready to sleep when it’s bedtime.
You don’t have to do high-impact or high-energy exercises, either — exercises like online yoga classes are actually designed to help your body relax. Doing yoga or any workout app wherever you are in your journey (and close to bedtime!) should help you wind down.
Now You Know Exactly How to Beat Jet Lag on Your Next Trip
Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, knowing how to beat jet lag is an important part of planning a long-distance trip.
The further you travel from your home time zone, the more likely you are to feel the effects of jet lag.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t care if you have a schedule to keep to while you’re away from home! Hopefully, these tips will help your body adjust to the new time zone more quickly. Find techniques that work for you, and before you know it, you’ll have a good plan for how to beat jet lag… no matter how often or how far you travel.
Do you have one we should add?
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