Jetlag. Many people get bothered by this nasty phenomena after a long-haul flight, some do more than others. My dear boyfriend Chris for example is one of those people that happily hop three time zones within one week – real story- , but others, like myself at the current moment, feel ‘sick’ for a certain period of time when switching time zones. So what can you do about a jetlag? After making many intercontinental flights, I’ve created a list with tips that – for me – help the most to prevent/lessen a jetlag.
I just came back to Europe from the USA and are fairly jetlagged. For me – and most other people – flying east is way worse then flying west. Whenever I go to the States all that my jetlag consists of is waking up very early in the morning and feeling completely awake, while I’ve only had a few hours of sleep. I experienced my worst jetlag when I flew east to South Korea. I laid awake at night until it was around 06.00 (am) Seoul time, which was around my usual bed time Amsterdam time. It took me more than a week to recover, every day I could fall asleep an hour earlier. It’s said that when flying East your body adapts by one or two hours per day to the new time. Usually jetlag is a sleep issue, but some people also experience things like headaches or an upset stomach.
So here is my list of tips to fight a jetlag:
1. Pick good flight times
Now I know that it’s not always possible to pick your ideal flight schedule, but if you can I say go for it! I feel the best when arriving later on the day, no matter what direction I fly, because I won’t have to fight my sleep for too long. I’ve noticed that I feel a lot worse when whenever I arrived early in the morning. Again everybody is different. So while I feel better arriving close to sun set, you might thrive stepping out of the plane at the break of dawn. The only way to find this out is by traveling!
2. Slowly start fooling yourself when entering the plane.
If you’re about to fly for example seven hours, slowly start pretending like it’s currently the time of your destination. Some people instantly do this but I myself need a little time to adjust. For example when getting on a plane at 10 pm. Chicago time, I can’t fool myself into thinking the sun is about to rise (in Amsterdam). However after a couple hours have past I will start to tell myself it’s the time of my destination. This way I prepare myself mentally.
3. Stick to the local time and don’t take naps.
As hard as it may sounds this is the best way to fight a jetlag. Even if you can’t sleep force yourself to go or stay in bed and try not to take naps. I’ve laid awake many nights and had many sleepy days, but they were worth it because without my jetlag would have been way worse. When visiting Japan for example I instantly went down for a nap after arriving around 3 pm. , the entire month I stayed on Amsterdam time, meaning I only woke up around 2 pm. most of the time. I saw a lot of Japan, but it could have been even more.
4. Eat well.
Try to eat healthy foods that give you energy like banana’s, spinach, almonds and so on early on in the day, but stay away from caffeine especially at night. Now I must say that my body can’t handle caffeine to well in general, it gives me palpitations, but especially after a long-haul flight it seems to worsen my jetlag. Keeping me awake at times that I shouldn’t be. It’s important to eat well after a long flight, you want your body to be able to focus on fighting that jetlag instead of having to work hard to digest unhealthy food. It’s also important to drink a lot during your flight and after, because of the dry air on a plane.
I want to state once again that ever body is different. The above tips work for me, and they might or might not work for you. I’ve accumulated these tips through personal experience and articles I’ve read about jetlag.