Traveling is one of my favorite ways to spend my money, time and energy. I’ve always said that travel is my greatest teacher, and I mean that.
However, one of the biggest downfalls of traveling is the dreaded jet lag that can occur whether you’re traveling across the world, or just across the country. Jet lag can last for just one day, or it can last for almost the entire duration of your trip.
This post will share a round up of my top 8 tips on how to avoid jet lag during travel to ensure that your trip doesn’t get tampered with.
How To Avoid Jet Lag During Travel
Here’s the thing, jet lag stinks no matter if it hits you on your way to your trip, or on your way home. Imagine you can’t sleep for the entire first week on your dream vacation. Or, imagine that you can’t sleep once you’re home and back and work.
Either way, lack of sleep really messes with our mood, energy levels, and immunity. Sure, part of the reason we want to avoid jet lag is out of pure convenience. But more severe cases of jet lag can also result in your getting sick. Which is something else we’d obviously like to steer clear from if possible.
Sync Up Digestion With New Time Zone
I find that one of the major factors in jet lag isn’t just about sleep, but it’s actually about our digestion in relation to our sleep. This is why I target my digestion first and foremost.
When you’re traveling to a place with only a few hour time difference, it’s pretty easy to take a bit longer between meals. But when you’re on a long flight to the other side of the world, you’ll want to be aware of the time at your destination when you’re eating on the plane.
Some people prefer fasting when traveling for this very reason. And this was something I used to do for the entire first day I arrived at a new destination. However, fasting wasn’t healthy for me long term due to disordered eating tendencies. As well as the havoc it wreaked on my hormones.
Instead of fasting, just try to eat during the hours that you’d eat according to where you’re going, rather than where you’re coming from.
Sleep On Plane According To New Time Zone
For those long flights, you’ll also want to try to sleep on the plane according to the new time zone you’ll be landing in. If you’re on a red eye, then chances are you’ll (hopefully) fall asleep no matter what. Which is great, because sleep is so necessary when traveling.
However, if it’s within your control, try to sync up your sleeping patterns with your destination right away. This means if you take any supplements before bed like magnesium, then it’s best to take those during the time you’d take it at your destination, rather than your origin.
Reset Circadian Rhythm
Your circadian rhythm is connected to your digestion and sleep patterns, and it revolves around the light of the sun. Different times of day have different frequencies of light that send signals to our body to dictate energy levels, hunger, and rest.
If you’ve just had a half day long flight, then you’ve been trapped in a dark metal tube for 12 hours without any access to natural light. Plus, you’ve been cramped up in a small space, breathing shared air, and most likely just a little bit delirious- so your body and mind are likely to be a little depleted.
Get your circadian rhythm on track with the light according to your destination by going outside right away. If it’s already night time, then do your best to use minimal lighting in your hotel room. I personally love to travel with one or two red night lights so that I don’t have to deal with the harsh blue light in strange places.
Go Outside Right Away
One of the best reasons to go outside right away is that exposing your eyes and skin to the natural light around you will help to reset your circadian rhythm. However, going outside right away has benefits beyond the circadian rhythm effect, as well.
There’s nothing that feels better than gulping in fresh air after being cooped up in airports and airplanes for hours on end. Fresh air is invigorating, and nourishing for the body and mind.
Another option for being outside is walking barefoot to ground yourself and connect with your new surroundings. This is nice to do on grass or sand, and is likely dependent on weather and cleanliness of your location.
Exercise Your Body
I know that moving your body might sound like the last thing on earth that you want to do after a long trip. But I promise this can help with jet lag. And, exercise doesn’t have to be intense in order to be effective.
One of my favorite ways to move my body after a long flight is simply going for a walk outside. This way I’m ticking off the circadian rhythm and getting outside time, as well. Plus, it helps me to get my bearings in a new place.
You don’t have to hit the gym and get a full on sweat going. But just moving your body in a way that helps to boost circulation, blood flow, and energy. Of course yoga is the perfect option for loving movement. And I happen to have plenty of perfectly bite sized classes on my app.
Try the No Time For Yoga series if you’re looking for short, 15 minute classes instead of full length, hour-long commitments.
Stay Up Late Enough To Sleep Through The Night
One of the most obvious tips in avoiding jet lag is making sure that you stay up late enough to sleep through the night. While this is obvious, it can also be one of the more challenging tasks, especially when you’re insanely tired.
I like to aim for a reasonable hour that will make sure I can sleep until at least 5 or 6 am. So, even if that means you fall asleep around 7:30 or 8:00 pm (which is probably a lot earlier than usual), it will get you going on the right track for the following days.
Set An Alarm For Naps
If you absolutely can’t make it through the day, and you know that you have to take a nap in order to get through your first day- then please make sure you set an alarm for your nap.
Even if you’re not a big napper, you’ll be surprised how long you can sleep when you’re jetlagged. It feels almost impossible to get up after only 30 minutes. Because your body probably wants 4 or 5 hours, instead.
I know it’s tempting to just let your body do its thing. But I swear this will only make your jet lag worse. If you have to nap, set an alarm, and don’t let your nap exceed an hour. This will give you just enough fuel to make it to the evening when you can properly pass out overnight.
Book A Massage
On a recent trip to Africa, I had the genius idea of booking us a massage on the afternoon that we arrived. Not only are massages way cheaper there than in the States, but I also knew our bodies would appreciate the love after a long, cramped flight.
The reason I found booking a massage to be helpful in battling jet lag is that it gets the lymph moving in your body. It’s relaxing, it boosts circulation, and it can be a timed nap all on its own. Massages can provide a really blissful time of drifting in and out of sleep, while not being able to stay and sleep there indefinitely. You can get the rest you need without oversleeping.
Pro tip: try to book a massage within walking distance so you can get some movement in before and after. And book the massage in the later afternoon. That’s likely to be the window your energy is starting to crash.
Let me know how these tips helped you battle jet lag for your next trip. And please share any of your own tips in the comments below!