How To Beat Jet lag - A Wandering Scribbler
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How To Beat Jet lag

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How To Beat Jet lag

On busJet lag is the most annoying thing about international travel.  It can take away the excitement of reaching a new place because of the overwhelming drowsiness.  I hate feeling tired so I hate jetlag, and I really don’t like having a cloudy mind when getting to a new place.  So I try my best to follow some rules that can minimize the effects of jetlag.  These tips can be used by anyone but because I can’t fly first class I’m not going to suggest getting a lie flat bed or light therapy that everyone seems really excited about.

Here are my tips to beat jet lag.

  1. Don’t drink coffee for two days before: If you’re a big coffee drinker like me then you know this might hit you hard.  But it’s for a good reason.  Like anything, your body can become immune to the effects of coffee.  By starving yourself from it, you’re basically taking your body back to reset, so once you do have coffee, it will hit you better and actually do its job.
  2. Drink coffee or your favorite caffeine drink when you get there: Start even before you get off the plane.  Order a coffee (no matter how gross plane coffee can be) and start thinking as if it’s morning.  Hopefully the coffee will kick in stronger since you’ve be abstaining from it and it will help you start the day better.
  3. Sleep on the plane (or don’t.): Figure out what the time is at the destination and do what people are doing at that time.  This will get your body on the new time zone so rather than pulling an all-nighter you can start to trick your body into the new timezone.
  4. Don’t sleep when you get there: I’ve heard some people say it’s okay to nap for a short time but I don’t think so.  When I’ve done that I always felt more groggy and out of it so that it was harder to get going again.  Also, depending on when you arrive, you might not be able to check into your hotel or hostel so counting is probably not the best to do.
  5. Eat a light meal: Of course you need to eat so you can last the rest of the day but if you eat something heavy like red meat or pasta this will only slow you down and add to your fatigue.  Instead try something lighter, soup, salad, sandwich, or just a white meat.  You’ll be thankful when you don’t immediately want to fall asleep after lunch.
  6. Change your watch, or phone if possible, when you get on the plane: This is another way to trick your mind into believing it’s your new time.  That way you stop thinking about what you’d being doing at your old time, and to what you should be doing.
  7. Melatonin: I take melatonin quite often even when I’m not traveling.  Melatonin works differently than a sleeping pill because melatonin is found in your body already and this added amount just forces you to feel more tired.  I would normally take this shortly after getting on the plane so that I feel more tired without being drugged.  And this is much better to wake up after taking.  Sleeping pills often leave you really drowsy, especially when you don’t sleep a full eight hours.  But melatonin hasn’t made me feel like that, even after a short night’s sleep on a plane.  I suggest trying this at home first just to make sure it works for you.
  8. Use the Sun: Get outside once you’re there.  The sun can trick your mind into feeling less tired both because of the vitamin D and because the visual property that tells our brains we should be awake.  And also, if you’re outside it’s more likely that you’ll be active, at least walking around, so your body will feel less tired.
  9. If at all possible try to adjust your schedule before leaving: If you have a flexible schedule try to start living by the time of your destination.  Eating, sleeping, and being active on the new time zone schedule will get your body ready for it.
  10. Drink water: Water is always good for your body but when you’re tired and doing stressful things like flying, it’s even more essential to drink water.  You can get very dehydrated when overtired so the added hydration will keep from a crashing feeling.
  11. Remind yourself it’s morning (or whatever time it may be):  Sometimes it’s just a matter of mind over matter.  For me, if I keep telling myself it’s morning and time to start the day I actually feel less tired than if I keep thinking about how tired I am and how i want a nap.  This might not work for everyone, or every situation, but trying to be positive instead of dwelling on the discomfort you feel will surely make things a little easier.

Do you have any tricks or tips for beating jetlag? Let me know in the comments below.

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