I love international travel, but it definitely comes with a price: dealing with jet lag. Within the past two months I flew from New York to Germany, Germany to India and then India to Sri Lanka. When I arrived in Germany I had one of the worst cases of jet lag I’ve had in years! I couldn’t sleep till 4 a.m. and then I would sleep until the next afternoon. It reminded me of how I used to feel when I was working as a flight attendant. Back then, I used to get a lot of questions from people about my magic formula for dealing with jet lag. Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic formula for jet lag, but I do have some tips that I hope will help you!
My top tips for dealing with jet lag
1. Use natural aids to help you sleep
There are plenty of natural remedies that can help you relax—hopefully enough for you to sleep. My personal favorites are melatonin and valerian root. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that controls our sleep-wake cycle. Valerian root is a natural sedative derived from flowers.
Melatonin comes in pill form and experts suggest that you take 3 milligrams an hour or two before bedtime at the destination you are traveling to. If you don’t want to take melatonin in pill form, you can consume foods that will boost your melatonin levels such as pineapples, bananas, oranges, oats or tomatoes.
Personally, I find valerian root works well for me. It helps to chill me out on the plane or upon landing at my new destination. I usually take 400 milligrams of it.
(Please note: I am not a medical doctor. Be sure to inquire with yours as to whether taking valerian root or melatonin is safe for you. You can also ask about what dosage level they think you should take.)
2. Avoid too much caffeine or alcohol on flights
It may seem tempting to enjoy a few glasses of wine on your flight, but it ultimately will end up making you feel worse upon landing. The same with drinking too much caffeine. If you do end up drinking on the plane, be sure to properly hydrate with water as well. See why in my next tip below.
3. Stay hydrated!
I can’t stress this one enough. When I worked as a flight attendant I saw so many people on the plane not drinking nearly enough water. Flying dehydrates you, so you have to make sure you are drinking plenty of water on the plane. I always try to buy a large bottle of water before boarding the plane and finish it before I land.
4. Try to adjust to the new time zone
Each person has their method on how to deal with jet lag upon landing. Something that works for me is to try to adjust to the new time zone. I try to stay awake until it is dark outside and a normal sleeping hour at my destination. Then I usually sleep for a good six to seven hours on the first night I arrive somewhere.
I usually don’t take naps when I travel internationally. I find that if I do, then I don’t sleep at night. If you really feel tired and need to take a nap try to keep it as short as possible.
5. Exercise or at least walk as soon as you can
When you are really jet lagged the last thing you want to do is exercise. I totally get that! But, if you do light exercise you will feel better. This is especially important if you were sitting on the plane for a long period of time since it will help get your blood and endorphins flowing.
6. Make sure you eat
Even if you don’t want to, try to eat a little at meal times at your new destination. Also, make sure you eat before going to sleep. Otherwise you will wake up and feel starving. I’ve done that too many times to count and don’t want the same thing happening to you! I find that fruit works well. I also pack a few healthy snacks with me just to be sure I have something to eat upon landing.
7. Remember that getting over jet lag takes time
At this point, I’ve traveled to over 30 countries and done a lot of international traveling. Sometimes I barely suffered from jet lag. Whereas other times I felt like I was going crazy because I couldn’t sleep at my new destination. As stated above, there is no magic cure for jet lag and it does take time to adjust—especially when you cross multiple time zones. Don’t try to fight your jet lag. Just listen to your body and it will tell you what to do. 🙂
So now you tell me: how do you deal with jet lag? Make sure you let me know in the comments or on social media!