With my family living in Switzerland, Kyle's family living in Vancouver, Canada, and us living in Chicago, we travel through time zones a lot and have experienced our fair share of jet lag. I want to share with you my best tips on how to get over jet lag quickly after travelling across multiple time zones.
What is Jet Lag?
Jet lag is a phenomenon which can occur when your personal biological 24-hour clock is altered which often happens after fast long-distance East-West travel. This means any time you fly through several time zones to get from North America to Europe, from Europe to Asia, or any other East-West/West-East combination you could think of, your body thinks it is in the time zone you started in and first needs to adjust to the new time zone.
The most common Jet Lag symptoms are poor sleep, insomnia, or the complete opposite - being tired in the middle of the day which can reduce the ability to focus, cause headaches, etc.
The first time I flew to Canada's West Coast from Switzerland, it took me almost a week to recover from the 9 hour time zone change. I was constantly tired during the day and could not stay up past 6pm. In the morning, however, I was wide awake at 4am and could not sleep for another minute. By the time I was adjusted to the new time zone, I was leaving to go back home again. Everyone experiences jet lag differently. I know people who barely notice a difference and others who are like me and need days to recover. There are a few tips I picked up over the last couple of years which helped me - and can help you - to get back into your normal rhythm faster.
My Best In-Flight Tips
- Hydrate: When traveling by plane, most people get dehydrated which has to do with the dry air in flight. Humidity on planes varies but is usually below 20% which resembles humidity levels in the desert. Drinking lots of water is key! A rule of thumb is to drink 8oz (250ml) of water for every hour you're in the air. I bring a refillable water bottle with me and fill it up right before I get on the plane. In addition, every time the flight attendant walks past with water, I grab a glass.
- Avoid caffeine: Try to avoid caffeine or reduce caffeine if possible. Coffee can promote dehydration and can also disturb your sleep rhythm.
- Avoid alcohol: Similar to the point above, alcohol can worsen dehydration and can increase the terrible feeling you have when getting off a plane. Try to avoid it if possible. After all, we already don't feel the freshest when getting off a long-haul flight so there is no need to add a hangover to the mix. To be completely honest though, Kyle and I don't always subscribe to this rule as we find it hard to resist the free booze. 🙂
- Flying Eastbound: When flying East to Europe, flights often arrive in the morning. To make sure I can take advantage of the entire day, I try to get some sleep on the plane. Now this can be difficult, especially when flying Economy as space is very limited and it's not very comfortable. I bring my own travel pillow and sleep mask and try to book a window seat so that I won't have to get up every time the person next to me needs to go to the washroom. I also find that Advil PM helps me sleep on the plane. (I am not offering any medical advice and please talk to a medical professional before using Advil PM.)
- Flying Westbound: When flying West to North America, flights often arrive in the afternoon or evening and you will feel the need to sleep on the plane as it is much later in the day where you started the trip. I usually try to stay awake as long as possible to get my body into the new rhythm quickly.
How to Get Over Jet Lag When You Get Home
Once you arrive at your destination or are back home, adjusting to the new time zone right away will help you recover from jet lag the fastest. This means not staying up too late and getting up at a reasonable hour in the morning even if you have to force yourself, and eating meals at standard meal times to get your body adjusted quickly.
After a flight Eastbound to Europe, I often find myself wide awake in the middle of the night and not wanting to get up in the morning. These are my best tips to get some rest after an Eastbound flight.
- Use an Eyemask: Not being able to sleep because there are no blinds or the curtains don't darken the room enough is very frustrating. I always bring my eyemask so that it's dark no matter what my environment looks like. I personally love this silk eyemask which is nice against my skin and doesn't bend my eyelashes in the wrong direction. Plus it comes with a really cute eyemask pouch.
- Use Earplugs: Similar to above, you don't know whether your destination is going to be noisy. To avoid any risk, I bring earplugs to help me fall asleep.
- Get Som Sleep: Som Sleep is a miracle drink that helps you fall asleep within 30 minutes of drinking it. It includes melatonin which is the sleep hormone naturally occurring in our bodies, and other relaxing ingredients. I enjoy the sugar-free version which is sweetened with Stevia Leaf Extract. In the past, I have tried using melatonin supplements to recover from jet lag but I find that Som Sleep works much better due to the combination of ingredients. You can find the zero sugar drink here:
- Get Seranaded to Sleep: Last but not least, Kyle and I often put on Sleep Music Delta Waves on youtube when going to bed. I have hardly ever heard the end of the 45-minute song which attests to how well it works!
Following a Westbound flight, I tend to be sleepy in the early afternoon and wide awake in the wee hours of the morning.
- Stay up as late as possible: The best way for me to adjust is to really force myself to stay up until 9pm or as late as possible on the first day. You might want to go to bed earlier but waiting until a later hour helps ensure that you don’t naturally wake up at 4am.
- Exercise in the evening: I find that exercising in the evening helps me stay up later after a Westbound flight. Even an evening walk around the neighbourhood helps.
Remember that all our bodies are different. Some people might adjust quickly to new time zones, while others take a few days. I find that the more I travel, the easier it is to adjust my biological clock. How do you get over jet lag? Do you have any secret tips? Let me know in the comments below!
Thank you, Som Sleep for letting us test your Zero Sugar drink to get over jet lag. All opinions expressed here are my own and I do not recommend products which I didn’t test or am not happy with.
What about these ones?