No more trips feeling like you should be sleeping at noon. Hack your brain with these simple tricks.
More than 10 hours of flight, 6 hours of time difference and a simple question: how to beat jet lag? Because feeling that your body is not where it should be is probably the only downside of traveling around the world. In fact, a strong jet lag – like the one that occurs when you travel from Paris to Tokyo – not only produces fatigue and sleep disturbances, but can also trigger irritability, digestive upset and lack of concentration. Adjusting the body to the new schedule may be a matter of one or two days, but it depends a lot on the person and the time zone, so prevention is always the best weapon to beat it – and it's better than loading up on coffee.
How to prevent jet lag
Start planning ahead
Normally jet lag trips don't happen from one day to the next, so it's possible to start getting your body used to future changes in advance. You can use the Jet Lag Rooster app the day before your departure to find out what time it is most convenient for you to go to bed, although as a general rule, if you travel east you should go to bed earlier than usual, and if you travel west just the opposite. Apply a similar routine to your meal times: a hungry stomach is a great jet lag ally.
Drink and eat well on the plane
Being hydrated is fundamental to making your body function properly, so remember this word: water. Although the temptation to have a glass of wine – or a gin and tonic – to fall asleep faster is strong, alcohol accelerates dehydration. Coffee or tea are not recommended either, as the caffeine they contain destabilizes the body's natural cycles. Food should also be taken into account: heavy meals full of carbohydrates induce sleep, while light, protein-rich foods keep you awake.
Hunt for the sun – or run away from it
There's nothing like sunlight for your body to know that it's not time to sleep yet. So if you fly east and need to stay awake for several hours, pull up the blinds of the plane and let the daylight shine on you. Do the opposite if you fly west: create a dark environment around you that makes your brain think it's already night time. You can use an OSTRICHPILLOW Light, a multi-purpose travel pillow that works as an eye mask, creating a comfortable feeling of total darkness.
Extend your stopover
If you have time – and money – enough, try to spend at least a couple of days in a city halfway between your origin and your final destination. Your body will become gradually accustomed to the time zone change and you will be able to discover new places that were not in your initial plan.
Jet lag remedies
You've tried everything and failed: jet lag is your new best friend. It's okay, it's happened to all of us. But there's a second chance to beat it.
Take a sunbath
Sunlight is the best way to keep you awake, as our body is trained to identify light with the need to be awake. So if you arrive at your destination in the morning, stay up and outside as much as possible.
Exercise at your arrival
You don't need to look for a gym as soon as you land, but it is convenient to move a little each morning so that your circadian rhythm takes less time to adjust, as it activates the metabolism.
Do what time says, not your body
If it's time for breakfast, breakfast, and if it's time for dinner, dinner. Set the clock on all your gadgets to the correct time, and avoid thinking at all costs about what time it is at home. The best way for your body to know what time you are is convincing your brain.
All clear? Then you are an expert on how to beat jet lag! Just try to remember that all these tips also work when you are heading home after a long trip – although at home is always your bed waiting for you, the ultimate jet lag remedy.
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Header photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash