- Jet lag can be difficult to overcome when you’re travelling between time zones.
- We asked experts for some simple things travellers can do before, during, and after their flights to reduce the effects of jet lag.
- Here are 13 of their best tips.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Whether you’re flying for business or pleasure, jet lag can be a serious trip wrecker.
But there are some simple things you can do before, during, and after your flight to minimise the effects of jet lag on your body.
We reached out to experts to get their do’s and don’ts when it comes to air travel. Let’s hope these tips mark the official end to staring up at your bedroom ceiling for hours on end next time you switch time zones.
Here are 13 of their best tips to defeat jet lag once and for all.
Make sleep a priority before you travel
Make sure you’re prioritising and getting plenty of sleep prior to your travel.
“Poor planning, late-night packing, and other stressors can often wear you down before you even stow your carry-on in the overhead compartment and this will ultimately make acclimating to a new time zone more difficult,” W. Christopher Winter, a sleep researcher and owner of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine, told Business Insider.
Pack for sleep optimization
This is especially important if sleeping on a plane is a struggle for you.
“Make sure you’re ready for the task by packing a neck support like NapAnywhere, earplugs, a sleeping mask, and comfortable clothes,” Winter said.
Time your sleep before your flight
Getting enough sleep isn’t the whole story, however. You also need to time your sleep properly.
Christine Hansen, a sleep expert and author of “Sleep Like a Boss,” told Business Insider that most people generally need a day to adjust to a two-time-zone difference.
“This means that you can prepare your body in advance,” she said. “Say if you had a trip ahead where you’d have a 10-hour difference. You could take five days in advance to adjust two hours each day by getting up or going to bed two hours earlier or later depending on where you’re flying.”
She suggested using the Timeshifter app, which does the calculations for you.
This one might seem obvious, but while many people might think to cut caffeine right before their flight, most don’t think to do so the day before.
“If your new time zone has a bedtime earlier than you’re used to, don’t drink caffeine for 12 to 24 hours prior to your travels,” Edward Alvarez, a cosmetic dentist who treats sleep apnea, told Business Insider. “You will want your body to not be stimulated for you to be able to sleep at an appropriate time in your new time zone.”
Check SeatGuru and consider upgrading your seat
This is especially important if you’re on a red eye flight.
“Make sure you look up SeatGuru.com to find a quiet seat if you plan on sleeping in-flight,” Hansen said. “Also consider upgrading to business class.”
Block blue light during your flight
Sarah Morgan, founder and CEO of the app VitaminIQ, suggested wearing blue-light-blocking glasses in the airport and on the plane.
“Have you ever seen someone walking around with rose- or yellow-tinted glasses? They’re becoming more popular because they block stimulating blue light from entering our brains and telling us to wake up and be alert,” Morgan said.
Blocking blue light and flooding your brain with red light allows the body to receive a calming signal to relax and rest, which in turn helps recover faster from jet lag, Morgan said.
Besides stimulating the brain, blue light also suppresses the body’s production of melatonin, the hormone your body produces to help make you sleepy. If you’re not up to wearing blue-light-blocking glasses, avoid phone and computer screens and in-flight TVs, all of which emit blue light.
Stretch and move around during your flight
“Stretch before the flight, walk around and stretch during the flight, and stretch once you land as well,” trainer Will Torres told Business Insider. “Flying can cause tightness in the shoulders, hips and hamstrings, so holding a deep lunge, a deep squat and even just stretching the arms as high overhead and as far behind the ears as possible can help release them.”
Time your sleep on the plane
A few days before a big flight, take a quick peek at your itinerary and figure out the local landing time.
“If you know you’re arriving in the morning then make sure to snooze on the plane so you’re refreshed and ready to take on the day ahead,” Nealy Fischer, founder of The Flexible Chef and author of “Food You Want for the Life You Crave,” told Business Insider. “On the flip side, if you’re landing in the evening, sleeping on the plane can lead to a restless night and ruin your entire first day away.”
Ditch the booze
While some people love to down a stiff drink to banish travel jitters, it’s best to avoid alcohol right before and during your flight.
“It can dehydrate your body, which just worsens jet lag symptoms, and mess with your sleep schedule,” Fischer said. “If you’re thinking to yourself, ‘But alcohol makes me sleepy,’ remember this: While alcohol does, in fact, induce sleep, the quality of sleep is lower.”
Along with ditching alcohol, you’ll want to remember to hydrate constantly with water.
“Flying is equivalent to living at about 8,000 feet in elevation, which is very dehydrating to the body on top of the overall stress of travel,” Morgan said. “Make sure to switch to water at the airport and on the flight as this will help your body reach adequate hydration and adapt to the new time zone faster.”
Fischer suggests munching on water-rich foods like cucumber, celery, tomatoes, diced watermelon, and blueberries as well.
Get in sync with the sun
Once you’ve landed, try your best to watch the sunset and sunrise.
According to health coach Robyn Youkilis, seeing the sun rise and set helps sync your circadian rhythm to your new location.
And Morgan said that sunlight exposure helps your brain perceive what time it is and what hormones it should release.
“Exposing yourself to morning sunlight and evening sunlight will bump your sleep-wake cycle to the new time zone much faster,” she said.
Get moving as soon as you land
“Exercise will get your blood flowing, endorphins pumping, and help get your circadian rhythm back on track,” Fischer said.
Optimise your environment
“Adjust the temperature of your room to about 62 to 65 degrees in order to fall asleep faster,” Alvarez said. “Evolutionary speaking, we as humans want to sleep at night after the sun has gone down and it’s cooler. Keeping the room at that temperature will help us meet that programming when trying to fall asleep.”
He also recommended making the room pitch black.
“Any light will suppress your melatonin production and therefore inhibit your attempts at falling asleep,” he said.
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