Recovering From Jet Lag
I am known to complain loudly about my body's reaction to jet lag. It knocks me out! Any time difference, even just an hour for daylight savings, can leave me drowsy for at least a week. It is one of the not so great things about traveling, especially when flying west to east. I am not a morning person to begin with; when 8am is suddenly 2am, good luck getting me out of bed!
However, experiencing time differences and jet lag multiple times a year, for most of my life, I started picking up a few tricks to help my body adjust as quickly as it can. First tip should probably be to stop traveling so much, but that's not going to happen!
1. Depending on where you are flying to, you may struggle staying awake, falling asleep, or even both. However, if you want your body to adjust, you have to try to follow your new sleep schedule as best as you can. Say you’ve just arrived in Europe and it’s 4pm, and you just want to crawl into bed. Don't do it!! Try to stay up until at least 10pm, and then set an alarm for 8-9 hours later, and get up!
2. Stay active. You have just spent 6 hours on a cramped plane with stale air. No wonder we all feel groggy and stiff afterwards. The best thing to start feeling a little more normal is to get moving. Go for an evening walk or (if you are crazy) go for a jog.
3. Get outdoors. This goes hand-in-hand with being active, but getting as much sunlight as you can when you first arrive can help you stay awake.
4. Make plans! This summer when I first arrived in Switzerland, we hit the ground running. My boyfriend was visiting for a week so we didn't spend the first few days just lounging around enjoying the peace and quiet. To my surprise, having a plan to see and do as much as we could while my boyfriend was there made it a lot easier to get up in the morning. Near the end of our stay in Switzerland, when we were enjoying our lazy days at the farmhouse, I suddenly found myself sleeping-in again in the morning. So my tip is to try to make plans the first few days after you have arrived, to help get you out of bed! After you have started adjusting to the time difference, you can start enjoying more laid back days. Then again, isn't vacation all about sleeping in??
5. Probably the most annoying thing is trying to go to sleep, only to toss and turn for hours because your body thinks it’s only 8pm and it’s asking you ‘are you crazy?!’ If you force yourself to get out of bed in the morning, even though you’ve hardly slept, hopefully after 1-2 days you'll find yourself getting sleepy at more acceptable time. If you are still having a hard time falling asleep, try some herbal bed time tea, like chamomile or linden. Read a few pages in a book, or write in your journal. Try to avoid watching TV (if you have one) or going on the internet (if you have a connection), that will only keep your brain engaged.
Some of you (lucky ducks) won't struggle as much with the time difference as others. However, we all feel like our heads aren't quite right after suddenly throwing ourselves in a whole new time zone. Give yourself a break and realize you'll experience a little drowsiness no matter what. It is vacation after all! Get up in the morning before noon even though all you want to do is sleep all day and you should be over the jet lag in a matter of days. That is unless you are me, and are convinced you're jet lagged year-round! (semi dramatic here).
Pro Tip: In addition to the above tips, drink water! Flying can be especially hydrating so drinking water throughout your flight can help with the grogginess. Once landed, staying hydrated can help you feel more alert!