Planning out that big trip for next year? Don’t let jet lag throw a wrench in your vacation! According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of jet lag can include mood changes, inability to fall asleep, daytime fatigue, and more. Sleep is such an essential part of day-to-day life, and it becomes even more important while traveling.
Aside from being unable to enjoy yourself, one of the quickest ways to get sick while vacationing is by not getting enough sleep. However, there are ways to fight against jet lag. Travel Off Path has listed 10 hacks below that will help you beat jet lag in 2023.
Start Adjusting To Your New Time Before You Go
If possible, try adjusting your sleep schedule in small increments in the days leading up to your trip. If you can halfway adjust to your intended time zone before you even take off, you will lessen the chances of jet lag getting in the way of you enjoying yourself on your hard-earned vacation.
Starting Off Strong
We’ve all been there… packing your suitcase and weighing it over and over again at 11 pm the night before your morning flight. It’s a bad habit many travelers fall into, but it can certainly worsen the effects of jet lag. Starting out your trip already sleep-deprived is a sure way to make jet lag worse and heighten your chances of falling prey to its side effects.
Make sure to get plenty of rest the night before your flight. Start packing a few days ahead of time so that you aren’t up all night stressed the evening before your trip begins.
Lighting The Way
Have trouble sleeping with the light on? Or do you start to doze off when the sun goes down? Light plays a significant role in our sleep patterns, which means it is one of the best ways to hack your way out of jet lag. Make sure you travel with a quality eye mask so you can get some shut-eye any time of day.
On the flip side, if you are trying to adjust to a new time zone before heading out for your trip, try to hack your sleep cycle by using lightbulbs that mimic natural sunlight to stay awake a bit later or wake up a bit earlier.
Sleep And Wake Aid
For a lot of travelers, sleeping on planes can be very difficult. Though it’s best to stick to natural sleep patterns as much as possible, sometimes it makes sense to call in reinforcements. However, try to stay away from alcohol. Although it can help you fall asleep more quickly, sleep quality is greatly diminished.
To aid in falling asleep faster, try taking melatonin. If you need to stay awake a bit longer to get used to a new time zone, there’s nothing wrong with reaching for a cup of coffee.
Try To Sleep On The Plane
For many, sleeping on a plane is nearly impossible. The constant hum of the engine, the occasional turbulence, and the noisy neighbor all make it challenging to get some shut-eye while flying. However, if at all possible, it’s a good idea to get some sleep on the plane to start to adjust to your new time zone before landing.
This is probably the best hack for the lucky few who have no trouble sleeping on a plane. If you are financially able, opting for an upgraded seat that includes the ability to lie flat can make it much easier to sleep while flying.
Sleep Like A Local
Once you’ve made it to your destination, the quickest way to adjust to the new time zone will be to act like your old one never existed. That means staying awake until the locals go to bed. If needed, it’s ok to go to bed a bit earlier. Just make sure it is reasonably late enough to call it ‘bedtime.’ If you start your trip by going to bed at 6 pm, it will be tough to overcome your jet lag quickly.
Just as sleep is a huge player in your overall health, so is making sure you are drinking enough water. Staying hydrated while flying will make it easier to sleep, improve the quality of your sleep, and help you wake up feeling more refreshed and ready to take on the day in your new time zone. Conversely, not drinking enough water can exaggerate the effects of jet lag by making you more tired throughout the day.
Exercise can be a great way to hack your body’s sleep cycle. Depending on your goals, you can exercise to either help you fall asleep sooner or stay awake in the morning. Once you have landed and are in your new time zone, there are two times you can exercise during the day that will help you adjust, depending on your needs.
If you need to go to bed and wake up earlier, time your workouts for early mornings, around 7 am. If you need to stay up and wake up later, time your workouts for the evening, around 7 pm.
Eat Well At The Right Times
Tempted to order that in-flight meal on a red-eye flight? You may want to hold off if jet lag is something you struggle with. Before heading off, think about eating a light meal about 12 hours ahead of what would be your morning wake-up time in your new time zone. This will allow your blood sugar to drop leading up to what would be a good sleeping time for your intended time zone.
Eating the in-flight meal on an overnight flight to Europe could mean you are eating at your new time zone’s midnight and throw your sleeping schedule even more off balance.
Don’t Stress And Be Patient
Have you ever tried to fall asleep, but it seems everything is working against you? Often, people fall into a cycle of frustration about not being able to fall asleep, which only leads them to become more frustrated. If this starts to happen to you, give yourself a break.
Traveling isn’t always easy, and that is ok. You aren’t the first person to deal with jet lag; you certainly won’t be the last. Just be patient, and don’t get stressed out, as this will only worsen your situation. Relax, have patience, and adjust to your new time zone in your own time.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com