Four ways to combat post-international flight jet lag

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Ah, jet lag. That lovely little nuisance we all come up against when traveling for any long length of time. Some popular pieces of advice include:

“You have to push through and stay up all day.”

“Don’t take a nap, it’ll just make it worse.”

“Take a cold shower. It will help wake your body up.”

These were all suggestions I’d been given to “help” alleviate jet lag when I recently traveled overseas. And it was also the absolute worst advice I’d been given in a very long time. (Of course, hindsight is always 20/20.)

Fresh off the plane after a long day of traveling (18 and a half hours, to be exact) and still in la-la land at the idea of living in Europe for three months, I took the advice.

To paint a clear picture, when I arrived, it was 8:30 a.m. at my destination — and still 2:30 a.m. home time. To “push through the jet lag” meant staying up another 14 hours, which I stupidly did for a grand total of 32 and a half waking hours — brilliant. Those suggestions may work at the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed age of 20, but not in your mid-thirties.

What that did was make me so exhausted I couldn’t see or think straight. It also put my body at a major sleep deficit that took close to seven weeks to even come close to correcting. My brain became foggy. I couldn’t concentrate on the work that I had gone there to do. I couldn’t hold an intelligent conversation. Couple that with a very noisy living situation and you’ve got a lovely recipe for disaster.

I was all the wiser coming back home, resolving to take better care of myself. Knowing how long it had taken me to regain any sort of normalcy, I was not going to put my already spent body through that again.

Remedies to combat jet lag when traveling overseas:

1.) Book the flight time in accordance with the time zone to which you are traveling.

Photo by Pixabay, 2017, via pexels

Let me tell you, if I had that option upon my arrival, I would have done it tout suite. For this trip, we had to be there by a certain time, which happened to be early in the day. Yes, you can try to sleep on the plane, but realistically, how many of us are actually able to do that? Especially with all of the amenities and perks that come with international flights these days. Let’s face it. Those movies ain’t gonna watch themselves.

Chances are, the place you’re traveling to is ahead of you time-wise. Try to book your flight close to your destination’s evening time. It will give you time to wind down and enjoy a relaxing dinner before heading to bed at a decent hour. Then you can simply drift off to dreamland for a good night’s rest.

2.) Stay hydrated.

Photo by Michael-T, 2017, via Pixabay

No, I’m not talking about that cute little café you got at the charming bistro down the street or the free glass of champagne they gave you on the flight over. You need to drink water and lots of it. Most airlines will go around with bottles of drinking water from time to time throughout the duration of the flight. Most of us try to avoid liquids during a flight as much as possible to save trips to the bathroom (especially if we have the window seat). But the air up there is very dry and our bodies can become very dehydrated during a long flight. You need to be drinking lots of water to keep your body performing at its optimum and to help it acclimate to the time difference.

3.) Listen to your body.

Photo by joeannenah, 1980, via Flickr

Duh. Sounds simple, right? Don’t fight the system — literally. Don’t try to fight what your body is trying to tell you it needs. If you’re hungry, eat. You need to replenish nutrients and energy that your body expended during travel. If you’re tired, go to bed. Don’t stay up all hours of the night to burn the midnight oil. Get some rest. Even if it means going to bed a couple of hours earlier than the norm, while your body adjusts to the time difference.

4.) And finally — okay, go ahead. Drink the champagne.

via giphy.com

I mean, why the heck not? After all, they did offer it to you for free on that flight back home. It’s been a long trip and you’ve earned it, darn it. It may even help you fall asleep on that seemingly endless journey across the ocean.

 

 

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