There’s nothing worse than spending the first day or so of your vacation feeling groggy and out of sorts. Jet lag can range from making you feel slightly drowsy to actually making you feel ill. If the time difference itself wasn’t enough to cause this, the stress of traveling can compound the issue. Between leaving the flight dehydrated and having to trudge through security lines, it’s pretty difficult to start your trip refreshed. However, these tips will help you reduce the jet lag you experience and recover in no time at all:
1. Adjust beforehand
For about a week leading up to your trip, adjust your bedtime so you can start tricking your body into taking on a new schedule. You can only add or subtract about an hour every night, but this little adjustment can make it easier for your body to take on the new time once you’ve landed. If you’re heading east, go to bed earlier: later for west.
2. Stay hydrated
Drinking lots of water won’t prevent jet lag, but it can make it a lot easier. Since the air on flights is very dry, most people are pretty dehydrated when they land. Being dehydrated can make you feel tired and sick, which will make jet lag even worse. Getting plenty of water before and during your flight will reduce your symptoms and make it easier to function in your new time zone.
3. Make the flight sleep-friendly
Try to take an overnight flight whenever possible so it will be easier to sleep on the plane. Bring a comfortable pillow, an eye mask and noise-cancelling headphones to reduce distractions and help you doze off. Any sleep you can get on the plane will make you more energized when you land.
4. Watch what you drink
Alcohol and caffeine can make you feel much worse when you land. They both contribute to dehydration, and caffeine can make it harder to sleep when you’re supposed to. Even if it’s tempting to get a cup of coffee when you leave the airport, try to stick to water on the first day of your trip.
5. Consider sleeping pills
If you absolutely cannot sleep on a plane, talk to your doctor about using a sleeping pill for your flight. Try to get a prescription for something with a short cycle, or you might still be groggy when you land.
6. Go outside
Sunlight reduces our body’s production of melatonin, the chemical that makes us sleepy. To reduce drowsiness, try to spend as much time outside in the sunlight as you can. Since you might not have as much energy as you’d like for other tourist attractions, this makes your first day the perfect time to head to a park or take in the local architecture.
7. No napping
Even though it’s tempting to nap as soon as you check into your hotel, resist the urge. Sleeping before nightfall will extend your jet lag even longer, making you feel tired for a bigger portion of your trip. Once you’re off the plane, resolve to stay awake until bedtime.
8. Eat a meal
Since your body is going to be tired, give it some extra energy in the form of food. If you’re so tired you feel sick to your stomach, it’s okay to pick something light. Similarly, make sure you eat breakfast on the second day of your trip: This will help reset your circadian rhythm to fit your new schedule.
9. Go for a walk
You can trick your body into feeling energized by doing something that requires energy. Go for a walk to give your mind and body a quick boost.
10. Pick a bedtime
Decide what time you’re going to go to bed on your first night and stick to it. It can be earlier than your at-home bedtime, but try to pick a time that’s solidly at night. That way, you’re more likely to wake up at a reasonable time the second day, after which your body should be used to the adjustment.