How to Beat Jet Lag: The Do’s and Don’ts

Traveling halfway across the world to an exotic destination can be an unforgettable experience. That is, unless you’re half-asleep throughout the trip because of severe jet lag. Jet lag recovery time greatly depends on how many time zones you cross. Crossing 6 time zones, for instance, could take your body up to 5 days to adjust.

Follow these do’s and don’ts from the National Sleep Foundation and Fodor’s Travel to beat jet lag:

DO

DON’T

Drink plenty of water

In order to prevent jet lag, stay hydrated. Try to drink at least 8 ounces of water for every hour of the flight.

Drink caffeine

Getting enough sleep is key to overcoming jet lag. Caffeine may prevent you from napping on your flight and can interrupt your total sleep time, causing you to wake up more often.

Book an overnight flight

If you don’t have trouble sleeping on a plane, take an overnight flight. This will help you maintain your regular sleep schedule and make it easier to adjust to time zone changes.

Put off sleep

While it may be tempting to try and stay awake before your flight so that you can get some shuteye in the air, avoid the urge. Starting out sleep-deprived will only worsen jet lag symptoms.

Reset your watch

As soon as you board, set your watch to the time at your destination to help you mentally prepare for the time change.

Eat heavy meals

Steer clear of large meals that are high in fat and salt prior to takeoff. They are harder to digest and can result in restlessness and poor sleep. Stick to lighter meals with a mix of protein, complex carbohydrates, and plant-based foods.

Simulate your schedule ahead of time

A few days before departure, shift the time you normally go to sleep to align with the time of your destination. If you’re traveling east, adapt to the new time by waking up earlier and going to bed earlier than normal. Heading west? Do the opposite. (This is known as advancing your body clock.)

Sit still for an extended period

Sitting stationary for hours can make you more susceptible to jet lag symptoms. Move around to keep your blood circulating – even if it means just taking a walk to the restroom during your flight.

Spend time outside

Light is a stimulant for regulating the biological clock. When you arrive at your destination, spend time outside in the sunlight and get fresh air.

Go to sleep as soon as you land

If you arrive at your destination during the day, avoid falling asleep the moment you reach your hotel. Try to stay awake until an acceptable local bedtime to get your body used to your new schedule.

 

Keep these jet lag tips in mind for your next vacation abroad; they’ll help make your trip more pleasurable. For more travel tips, check out our International Travel Planning series:

International Travel Tips: How to Stay Connected While You’re Abroad

7 Items to Go Over Before Heading Overseas

25 Packing Hacks for Traveling Abroad

Foreign Finance 101: Managing Your Money Abroad