It’s right up there with 10+ hour flights or ‘equipment malfunctions’.
Jet lag. It’s awful, seemingly uncontrollable, and can ruin your trip.
Whether you’re visitng a brand new country for a few days or have to get into boss mode immediately, you need to get over jet lag – and fast.
First – I don’t try to prevent jet lag. I would rather maximize my time at home to spend time with my family and finish up as much work as possible. How I spend my travel time is dictated by my body and my to-do list. If I’m tired, I sleep. If I’m not, I’ll work (offline), read a book, or watch a movie. Traveling alone has become a luxury, and often the only extended time I have to whatever I want. I take full advantage of that.
That said, I’m a stickler for these routines when I land. They are the reason I’m able to adjust to the local time within a day or two – and adjust back when I get home.
JETLAG ROUTINE – IF YOU LAND IN THE MORNING/AFTERNOON
1) Exercise as soon as humanely possible. As soon as I arrive to my destination, I like to throw on some workout clothes and get moving. Going for a walk or run outside is my first choice – it’s a great way to explore. It’s also the most efficient way of absorbing Vitamin D, which regulates your body’s melotonin production. Melatonin is the hormone that regulates your body’s wake/sleep cycle, and traveling across time zones disrupts your melatonin levels. Exposure to Vitamin D is the most efficient way to reset your melatonin levels, and the endorphins from exercise will help you wake up.
If the area isn’t safe or if the weather is rotten, I’ll do a quick workout in the hotel gym or a yoga sequence (via Aaptiv) in my room before taking a shower. I try to get as much Vitamin D exposure by sitting near windows or walking around as much as possible.
2) Rehydrate – through foods and water. While a giant bottle of water and a big salad may be the last thing you want to eat (particularly if you’re in a culinary gem like Italy or France), it’s the best thing you can eat. Dehydration can also throw off your body’s melatonin production, and filling up on water and water-rich foods is the best way to get it back to normal. If I’m in a developing country, I’ll swap a salad for fruits with a peel or skin (like watermelon, bananas, or pineapple) to err on the side of safety. If you have connecting flights, eat this during your layover and upon landing to stay as hydrated as possible.
3) Indulge carefully. It’s tempting to drink more coffee than usual, or enjoy an extra glass of wine at dinner. Abstaining from both entirely is best, but not realistic for me. I stick with the same rules I have for weekdays at home – no coffee after noon, and only 2 glasses of wine. I do let myself have caffeinated tea in the afternoon and switch to sparkling water (or kombucha, if available) to stick to the 2 glasses rule.
4) Go to bed early. I would rather wake up earlier while traveling and make the most of the days. If I’ve stuck to these rules dutifully, I usually won’t need to take melotonin. Comfortable pajamas, a book, my sleep mask, and this aromatherapy do the trick perfectly.
JETLAG ROUTINE – IF YOU LAND AT NIGHT
1) Dry brush and take a hot bath or shower. My priority is to get to sleep quickly, and there’s nothing more relaxing than a dimly lit bathroom (this candle is my current travel favorite), calm music, and hot water. Dry brushing does nothing for melatonin production, but it makes me feel even cleaner after being in transit (and the germs that come with it). I sleep better after a dry brush-shower combination than with a shower alone. Maintaining a dim atmosphere is key to reset your melatonin levels. A good rule of thumb is to mimic the sun – keep the lights on when the sun’s out, and turn off as many as you can when it’s dark.
2) Read without comprehending. Reading is a big part of my night routine, but a good novel will keep me up late (and defeats the purpose of getting over jetlag). But poetry, or nerdy subjects that I typically reserve for my morning nonfiction reading, are perfect to lull me to sleep when I’m fighting jetlag or insomnia. I never read to remember, and will keep my bookmark in the original location.
3) Slip on the essentials. I always slip on my sleep mask and apply this aromatherapy treatment before I sleep every night when I’m traveling. Having the same ‘sleep ritual’ when I’m away from home has helped me sleep better away from home. I’ll take melatonin (these Olly chews are my favorite) only if I’m still awake and restless.
How do you fight jetlag? Do you have any hacks or rituals you follow to get proper rest when traveling? COMMENT below and let me know!