As my best friend flew to Kyrgyzstan a while ago and returned with a major jet lag of which she did not get rid for about a week, she asked me what to do in order to prevent it. So I decided to write a blog post about it! I travel according to the following tips and have not had a jet lag in 4 years (#4yearswithoutjetlag – can we actually make that a thing?)
1. Set the time to your destination
Before getting onto an airplane from e.g. FRA to LAX, set the time from 8 a.m. in Germany to 11 p.m. in California. Then, directly go to sleep because it is nighttime at your destination and try waking up at around 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. as it is then daytime. When boarding the plane, set your phone and watch to the time of your destination and your mind is somehow already tricked into thinking it is in another system and has to adapt and is not hanging onto an ‘old’ system. Do not adjust to your destination when you arrival there, but already before. No need to start 2 days ahead of departure, but the flight or train ride to your adventure is a great possibility to do so. This is my go-to jet lag prevention and is incredibly easing.
2. Avoid sleeping during the day
If you land (early) in the morning – as in said example where you would be landing at LAX at approximately 11 a.m. – you still have a long day ahead of you. The worst thing you can do is fall asleep because you would then fall into a pattern of behaviour as in your country of origin. If you are very, very tired towards the afternoon, allow yourself a power nap of maximum 40 minutes to recharge your batteries. But do not sleep more, it will utterly confuse your sleep-wake-cycle and disturb your hormonal balance.
3. Go to sleep early
I know, you are in a new city and want to explore every corner of it. But these 3 hours at night will not show you a new world which you could not discover the following nights as well. So the first one or two nights, just go to sleep early. Try to go to bed at around 10 p.m., it will take a while to fall asleep anyways. But after already one day of adjusting and living by the “new” time zone, you will feel much more rested. I usually do not have any problems in a new time zone after a day if I went to sleep early, it is refreshing for both body and mind.
4. Avoid heavy drinking
The day before your travel and on your first night, avoid hitting the bar. Drinking will only keep you away, mess up your circadian rhythm during long travels and make you extremely tired the following day. You know the famous story of “My flight is at 6 a.m., so I went partying until 3 a.m. and then boarded the plane. Turns out it was a horrible idea…”? We all know that this is the worst idea if you seriously want to avoid jet lag, so just do not do it. Except for when you do not even care, then cheers big ears!
5. No sleeping pills, caffeine etc.
Any substances which will either make you sleepy or keep you awake on a unnatural basis are taboo prior to and while traveling. It brings the same complications as drinking, it will only bring confusion to your body when acclimatising to a new surrounding. If you cannot sleep under any circumstances and desperately need to take a sleeping pill, then do so. But do not take it an hour before landing but directly after boarding.
I hope these tips will keep you sane during long travels! Share your best method against jet lag with us in the comments! 🙂