Having logged more than 1,000 hours in the air this year, the Indagare team has compiled our ultimate guide to fighting frequent flyers’ No. 1 enemy: jet lag.
Every traveler knows that jet lag can have a significant impact on the first days following a long flight. According to the National Sleep Foundation, this common ailment occurs when the sleep-wake cycle determined by your body’s circadian clock conflicts with the daytime and evening hours of your new destination. You may not be able to avoid the symptoms entirely, but there are several steps you can take before and after your arrival to mitigate the effects of crossing time zones. Here are our best tips and tricks for combating the dreaded jet lag.
Before You Go
Adjust your body clock in advance.
A few days prior to your departure, begin slightly shifting your sleeping and eating schedules to be closer to those of the time zone you will be entering, so the adjustment will feel less abrupt after touchdown. Immediately upon boarding the plane, set your watch or phone to your destination’s time, so you can plan your in-flight meals and sleep accordingly.
Commit to a sleep plan.
If your flight takes place during your destination’s evening hours, do your best to sleep on the plane, so you can hit the ground running when you arrive in the morning. Our team uses noise-canceling headphones, eye masks, natural sleep aids and sleep-inducing playlists to transform less-than-ideal airplane seats into restful oases. We also recommend waking up extra early on the day of your flight, so you’ll feel more tired than usual by the time you board. If you’re in the air during your destination’s daylight hours, keep yourself awake by walking in the aisles, stretching frequently and hydrating often, then head straight to bed upon arrival at night.
Drink plenty of water but avoid eating on the plane.
Many flight attendants swear by this trick: eat something healthy and easy to digest before your flight, then stick to water while in the air. The idea is that avoiding salty airplane food prevents bloating and lethargy, while drinking only water keeps your digestive system from working extra hard once you land, reserving your body’s energy for helping you stay awake. Try to drink at least eight ounces of water every hour of your flight. If you need a snack during a long trip, consume unprocessed, light foods like unsalted nuts or fruit and juices at a time when you’d be eating at your destination.
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Embrace your new time zone immediately.
If you arrive during your destination’s daytime hours, resist the urge to nap, as this will only disrupt your sleep schedule further. Push through the day by remaining moderately active, perhaps exercising or enjoying a spa treatment. If you must close your eyes, sleep for no more than an hour or two. If you arrive at night and need help falling asleep, take a warm bath and avoid caffeine, alcohol and any cellphone or computer screens for at least an hour before bed.
Spend time in the sun.
Maximize your exposure to natural light during your first days on the ground. This helps reset your body’s circadian rhythm to match the daylight hours of your new time zone.
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Indagare’s Airplane Rescue Kit
A well-stocked carry-on is key for traveling in comfort, so scoop up these in-flight essentials before your next trip.
Hill House Home baby pillow, $120
Tiny pillows that are in a completely different league from those offered on planes and come in crisp, finely woven pillow cases.
Bose noise-canceling headphones, from $249
High-quality headphones that block out sleep-disrupting sounds—from the purring engine to crying babies.
Saje Pocket Farmacy oil blend kit, $60
Five roll-on oils that promote relaxation, relieve pain and release stress.
Ursa Major Essential face wipes, $24
Individually wrapped bamboo face wipes that are infused with natural ingredients like aloe and green tea and will clean, exfoliate, soothe and hydrate your skin all in one swipe.
Lululemon Refresh hot/cold bottle, $38
Double-walled, stainless-steel bottle that keeps liquids cold for 24 hours and hot for nine.
Natural Calm Packets,$24
Magnesium powder that mixes with water for a natural sleep aid.