I travel a lot. Over the past few years, I’ve averaged 70,00 to 120,000 miles of air travel each year—that’s the equivalent of going around the circumference of the earth 3 to 5 times!
When I first started traveling internationally, I suffered tremendously from jet lag. I would wake up in the middle of the night unable to go back to sleep, have tremendous difficulty falling asleep at night, be exhausted and unable to function in the middle of the day. Plus, my appetite would be off and I’d get headaches and feel generally disoriented. Over the years, I’ve learned a number of ways to ease—and practically eliminate—any effects of jet lag. By sharing them with you, I trust you find some that resonate with you.
1. Drink LOTS of Water
Most airports have water bottle refill stations. Bring two bottles with you, or purchase them in the airport and fill them up between flights. And when the flight attendant asks if you want something to drink, say “Yes! Water please!” Drinking water regularly before, during, and after your flight will keep your entire system hydrated, allow you to quickly flush any toxins you picked up while traveling out of your body, and generally ensure you feel your best. And yes, if possible, get an aisle seat.
2. Do NOT Sleep Upon Arrival, Wait Until Nighttime
This is a REALLY easy mistake to make. Especially when arriving into a country in the morning after a long flight. The temptation is to head straight for a bed and crash. This, in my experience, is the worst thing you can do. Waking up from a nap, I’m usually super groggy for hours, and then when it’s time to go to bed for the night…did someone say toss and turn? Yes, it can be painful to stay awake for the day, but this habit will help you rapidly adjust to the new time zone and enjoy deep and refreshing nights of sleep during your stay.
3. Eat Well, Feel Well
One of my most frequent discomforts while traveling is a bloated stomach, something about the air pressure and elevation combined with the “gourmet” nature of airplane food just doesn’t sit well with my body. The more aware I am with what I eat, and how much I eat, the better I fare. Both in the air and also upon arrival at the new destination. Give some extra attention to what you put in you body while traveling and you will be grateful for it. Here are a few tips:
– Bring healthy snacks on the plane
– Avoid too much bread and other intense carbohydrates
– Order a special meal from the airline ahead of time
– Opt for fresh juice in the airport over coffee or soda
– Fast through one meal… we will not die if we avoid one meal.
4. Be HERE NOW
One of my favorite past times used to be comparing what my current time zone is with where I came from. You know: “OMG, it’s 5 p.m. here in Tokyo, that means it’s midnight back Denver.” If you do this… STOP! By continually focusing our thoughts and attention on the time zone we came from we keep our consciousness, and thus our body, in that time zone. Be wherever you are. I don’t care if it’s the other side of the world, if it’s 4 p.m where you are, it’s 4 p.m. for you. Fake it until you make it. Adjust all of your clocks at the beginning of your travel and embrace that time zone.
5. The Magic of Melatonin
I tread with caution with this thought and recommend you consult with your health care practitioner before using melatonin. But for me, this little pill is magic. For 2 to 3 days upon arrival, I will take a little melatonin before going to bed. The effect? Well rather than waking up in the middle of the night, tossing and turning, I usually sleep through the night. After 2 to 3 nights, my body understands that I am in a new time zone and I no longer need it. Plus I do not want my body to become dependent on melatonin for a night’s sleep. Enjoy (with caution).
6. Don’t Believe in Jet Lag
While saving this one for last, this is, in my experience, the MOST important thing we can do to prevent jet lag. The more focus and attention we put on jet lag the more it will impact us. As the saying goes where attention goes, energy flows. What are you putting your attention on? By sheer focus you can will yourself into another time zone, place and location. Just because others believe in something does not mean that we need to. Step away from the herd and decide your own reality and manifest that. Wherever you are, be there fully. Enjoy, with passion.
On your next trip, try a few of these tips and let me know how it goes. Do you have any other jet lag prevention tips to share? Here’s to happy healthy travels!
P.S. Bonus travel tip: Compression socks are AMAZING for long-haul flights. They keep the circulation in your feet and legs moving and can reduce swelling in the toes, feet, and legs. I don’t get on any international flights without mine.