How to Conquer Jet Lag

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When you’ve got a measly two weeks or less of vacation time to explore a foreign destination, the last thing you want to do is waste your first days being too jet lagged to enjoy yourself. Follow these tips to bypass jet lag and get more out of your holiday.

Start adjusting your sleep schedule early

In the days before your departure, start making minor adjustments to your eating and sleeping schedule to move towards the local time at your destination. For example, if you’re flying from New York to Paris, there is a six hour time difference, with Paris being ahead of New York. Try waking up half an hour earlier than usual a few days before you leave. The next day make it an hour, and adjust your bedtime accordingly. Likewise if you’re traveling westward, as in New York to Los Angeles, you should try to stay up later than usual. If you need help planning the timing, you can use an app like Jet Lag Rooster.

Book the best seat

Even if all you can afford is economy class, you can do a little smart seat planning to ensure you can score a nap on the flight. Exit rows typically have more legroom, allowing you to stretch out a bit, and window seats are ideal for finicky sleepers as they give you a place to put your pillow and ensure your seatmates won’t have to disturb you to get up and go to restroom. All that considered, be aware of your destination’s time zone and if it’s daytime there, you may be better off staying awake for the duration of the flight.

Reset your watch

The minute you board the plane, set your watch to local time. Don’t wait until you’ve arrived to make a sudden adjustment. Switching to local time in flight will cushion the blow of changing time zones, particularly if you’re traveling eastward and therefore losing a few hours.

Stay hydrated

The air in planes is very dehydrating, so packing an empty water bottle and filling it up at a water fountain prior to boarding is an absolute must-do. Resist the urge to grab a drink before your flight, and say no to alcohol while you’re in the air. You might think a cocktail will help you sleep, but it will just dehydrate you faster and ensure whatever sleep you do get is lower quality. On a similar note, caffeine and sleeping pills will do more harm than good.

Stick to your routine

Overnight or red eye flights are actually great for busting jet lag, because you can trick your body into thinking you’ve made it through a full night. After your in-flight meal, head to the restroom and perform as much of your regular nightly routine as possible. Wash your face, brush your teeth, take your contacts out if you wear lenses. You might even consider packing a pair of pajama pants and changing on the plane. All this will help relax you and make catching a few z’s in flight a greater likelihood. About an hour before landing, get up and head back to the restroom for a typical morning routine. Taking the time to freshen up will help you feel more awake and keep your Circadian rhythm in check.