If you've traveled long distance -- especially internationally -- then you've probably experienced jet lag. What's jet lag? It's a temporary sleep disorder that occurs when your natural circadian rhythm is disrupted, such as by traveling across several time zones. Want to beat jet lag on your next trip? Here are nine expert tips:
1. Start well rested
Whatever you do, you don't want to begin your journey exhausted, which can prolong jet lag. Instead, make sure you're well rested before your flight. This will allow your body to settle into a proper sleep cycle once you arrive at your destination.
2. Adjust to local time at the start of your flight
Most people adjust to the local time at their destination when they arrive, but you should adjust to local time at the beginning of your flight. Then start adjusting your rhythms to that time -- for instance, if it's 5 pm local time, then eat your most substantial meal of the day to simulate eating dinner. By the time you arrive at your destination, your body will have begun the process of adjusting to a different rhythm, minimizing jet lag.
3. Continue following your sleep routine
Following your typical sleep routine is key to getting quality sleep while flying. This means you should go through your nightly routines as you would at home, such as washing your face, brushing your teeth, and putting on white noise.
4. Get as cozy as you can
Sleeping on a plane is very uncomfortable, but investing in some creature comforts can help you get cozy. Some items you should purchase include a blanket, neck pillow, sleep mask, earplugs, compression socks, and noise-canceling headphones.
5. Use natural sleep aids
Prescription sleep aids can leave you feeling groggy and disoriented. But, natural sleep aids can help you fall and stay asleep without adverse side effects. You should consider buying melatonin and chamomile tea.
6. Drink water
Staying hydrated is essential when it comes to minimizing jet lag. Airplane environments typically have less humidity and oxygen, which can dry you out. To prevent this from happening, drink water at regular intervals.
7. Avoid alcohol and caffeine
Alcohol and caffeine are diuretics, meaning they dehydrate you. What's more, both disrupt your sleep cycle. Whatever you do, avoid caffeine and alcohol while traveling.
8. Move around
Don't forget to get up and move around the plane at regular intervals to increase circulation in your body and minimize jet lag. Every waking hour, you should walk around the cabin for five minutes.
9. Don't sleep when you arrive
Once you arrive at your destination, it might be tempting to sleep right away, but don't. This will only worsen your jet lag. Instead, continue staying up until the time you'd typically go to bed.
While the worst part of traveling internationally is dealing with jet lag, you can easily minimize its severity. The key is to start adjusting to local time right when you take off, make yourself as comfortable as possible on the airplane, avoid alcohol and caffeine, and stay up once you arrive at your destination.