Jet lag – a common bane of long distance relationships. You finally get to see your partner, but if you’ve traveled multiple time zones, it can eat away at whatever precious time you have together.
So, here’s a pile of suggestions that could help you stave off the side effects of your journey.
The hardest part comes from your personal experiences with trial and error. Not every piece of advice is a sure-fire solution. Adjusting your sleep schedule might work for you but not another.
So, if you’re new to long-distance travel, it’s wise to try several things. Personally, there’s no amount of “good vs bad foods” that saves me from feeling like I want to sleep for a million years when I land.
PREPARATION IS KEY
REMEMBER – West is best. East is a beast.
Meaning, east is going to be MUCH harder to recover from. This happens because traveling west makes your day feel longer, while traveling east makes it feel shorter – and your system is better at coping with a long day. It’s obviously not an issue if you’re only dealing with a 2-hour flight, but when the average is one day of recovery for every changed time zone, those long-haul flights will be merciless.
Check what the local time of your arrival is and adjust your sleep schedule a couple days ahead of time to reflect the new zone. What you should NOT do is exhaust yourself just before the flight in hopes of “forcing” yourself to sleep.
Also, it’s not always within our control to choose a ticket with an ideal arrival time, BUT if it’s at all possible, timing your arrival to compliment bedtime or necessary daylight hours can also help.
USEFUL TIP – Set your watch or phone to the destination’s time as soon as you get on the plane – not before or you might miss your flight!
TO SLEEP OR NOT TO SLEEP?
It’s a big debate on whether or not to sleep on the plane. This is affected by several factors – continuing your pre-prep sleep schedule, no pre-prep because of job/family/time/life, flying east, etc. If it makes sense to rest, you should.
And, if you’re going to catch some Zs, pack some comfy clothing, flight socks, and inflatable pillow. Also, finding a free row or empty front seat is a great bonus so you can stretch out. But, if you have to stay awake, make sure you have enough to keep you busy.
I can’t sleep AT ALL on planes, so I usually have no choice in this matter.
BREAK IT UP
If it’s a particularly long fight, and you have the time, grabbing a layout might be a good idea (even though most of us do anything we can to avoid one). This way, you can nap at the airport and spread your travel across several days.
CONSUMPTION DOS AND DON’TS
What you put in your body will either help or hinder your jet lag.
- CAFFEINE – Stay away from things like coffee, tea, cola, and other stimulants which won’t help you sleep.
- EAST FOODS – Carbohydrate-y foods will help make you sleepy.
- WEST FOODS – Protein-rich foods and lighter meals to help you stay awake.
- ALCOHOL – Sorry, but booze will end up hurting more than helping (in any situation).
- WATER – Your body will need hydration, especially during a flight.
- PILLS – Sleeping pills might sound great, but they often leave you groggy, which will only be amplified with travel.
GIVE YOURSELF TIME
Most people forget the fact that long fights are really hard on the body. It doesn’t only include fatigue but also bowel problems, appetite issues, fuzzy head/memory, indigestion etc.
If your meet up allows, give yourself a day or two to recover and take things slowly. Watch television while cuddling and talking (ones of my favorite parts).
KNOW YOUR PLANES
Some planes have better lighting systems to mimic natural light, air purification, humidifiers, etc. I’m told the A350s and A380s are good for this. Having a comfortable flight will work wonders.
OTHER THINGS TO TRY
- Get a good night’s sleep the evening before.
- Adjust your eating schedule to match the destination.
- Go outside and take a walk to stay awake.
- Do “airplane exercises”.
Remember, everyone is different. Some of these things won’t work for you. Some will. Regardless, you need to take care of yourself so you can keep your recovery short and your visit long.
Any other suggestions for how to deal with jet lag? Share in the comments so we can all benefit!