Out of Office: 5 Tips for Beating Jet Lag
I think everyone can agree that jetting away for a little escape is always a good idea… but there’s no getting around the fact that if you travel far enough, jet lag will wreak havoc on your sleep schedule (which can then wreak havoc on your vacation!). I mean, it’s already hard enough to keep your regular diet and exercise in check when you’re jetting away, and you don’t need one more thing messing up your body’s routine. If you haven’t yet been a victim of jet lag, just know that it makes it hard to get back into the swing of things once you reach your destination and you’ll probably experience fatigue like never before. BUT, don’t get too discouraged yet, because with just a few tricks you can beat jet lag (or at least lessen the effects of it and get back to your vacation more quickly).
Let me just start by saying that everyone is different, especially when it comes to sleep habits and schedules. So, although I recommend everyone try these tips at least once, it may take some personal trial and error to find what really works for you. Let’s jump right in…
1. Try Lavender
Lavender has long been known to be one of the more relaxing aromas you can use, which makes it perfect for beating jet lag when traveling. The best part is there are so many ways you can use it, so it is customizable depending on your preferences. One option is to bring a little bottle of essential lavender oil with you on the plane—dab just a bit on your fingers and rub your temples with the oil, or put it on your chest so you can close your eyes and inhale the scent as you fall asleep. Or if you prefer something a little less messy, you can always pack a lavender neck pillow like this one, to double as aromatherapy AND a nice comfy place to rest your head. (Tip: If you opt for the oil, make sure not to use too much as aromas are airborne and can be intensified in confined spaces. You don’t want to irritate your neighbor, just use enough to relax in your little bubble.) Make sure to continue the lavender routine even after you get to your destination for the first few nights, by dabbing a few drops on your pillowcase to help you fall asleep more quickly.
2. Mellow Out With Melatonin
Getting those Z’s in while in the air will really help you to feel more rested when you get to your destination. Another way to fall asleep more quickly is by taking melatonin on your flight. Melatonin is a natural way to regulate your sleep cycle, which makes it suitable for most people (however, always make sure before you take it that it won’t interact with anything else you’re currently taking). Melatonin is generally taken about 30 minutes before you want to sleep, so plan accordingly!
(Note: Before you jump into sleeping on your flight at all, take into consideration what time it is at your destination. If it is technically daytime where you are headed, and you’ll arrive in the evening, consider foregoing sleep and using the time to do something relaxing or work and get things done to stay awake. Otherwise, you’ll arrive at your destination and be up all night!)
3. Skip the Nap
I love a good nap as much as the next person, but when I’m traveling I try my best to resist the urge to plop onto the bed as soon as I reach my destination (especially after a long international flight). If you want to really beat jet lag, skip the nap! This is especially important when you arrive at your destination in the morning or mid-day. When fatigue hits, this can sound nearly impossible. But I promise it’s doable! Just keep yourself busy with activities and plenty of bright light. Go for a stroll through town, out in the warm sun, see some sights, and try your best to avoid any place that will tempt you to sleep (like going to a play in a dark theater, or laying on your comfy hotel bed, for starters).
4. Prepare Yourself
Something that always helps me beat jet lag is getting into a sleep routine before I even depart for my trip. If you’re flying east, start going to bed an hour earlier each night for a few days before you leave, so that when you arrive in the east, your sleep schedule will be more regulated. If you’re traveling west, do the opposite and stay up for an extra hour each night for a few days before your trip. Long story short: just try to get adjusted to your destination’s time zone before you arrive there, and it won’t feel like such a jarring change.
5. Bring PJ’s on the Plane
It sounds almost too simple, but changing into a pair of comfy pajamas on the plane makes it that much easier to fall into a comfortable sleep. Planes aren’t the most glamorous of places to prepare for a full night’s sleep in the first place, and it’s even worse trying to do it in a pair of uncomfortable jeans or stiff shirt. On long flights I always pack a pair of regular PJ’s in my carryon, so I can easily do a quick wardrobe change in the airplane restroom to prepare for some shut-eye.
Photos: Gray Malin
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