Travel July 6, 2018
Learn how to overcome these two little words, and capitalize on your vacation time.
It’s officially travel season! No matter how you’re getting to your sweet vacay spot—be it by car, boat or plane—you’re probably dreading those all-too familiar two words that seem synonymous with long-distance travel: jet lag.
What many of us think of as fatigue, irritability and insomnia, is, in fact, jet lag. The condition happens when your circadian rhythm is disrupted. In other words, when your body’s sleep and wake schedule doesn’t match its environment, you experience jet lag. Don’t worry though; with these hacks, you can finally beat jet lag and make the most of your vacation!
Start adjusting your sleep schedule before you leave. If you’re going east, start going to bed a bit earlier. If you’re traveling west, try to stay up an extra hour.
Doing this will allow your body to slowly adjust to the time change.
If you’re like me, you’re sleep deprived no matter what time zone you’re in. For this reason, I generally consider plane rides as mandatory nap time—regardless of where I’m headed.
Although I like sleeping on planes, I often find it difficult to actually fall asleep. This is where melatonin comes in. Melatonin is an over-the-counter dietary supplement that releases the hormones that your brain naturally releases when you go to sleep. Because it is natural, it doesn’t put you in a sleep-induced coma like sleep medication might, and instead it helps kickstart your natural sleep process.
Of course, since it is an over-the-counter supplement and is not as strictly regulated by the FDA, consider checking with your doctor before using it.
Drinking water is just generally good advice, but it becomes especially important when you change altitudes and are in a dry climate. Both of these things happen when you’re in an airplane, or on a road trip. (Think about how drying the A/C is to your skin the next time you’re in a car).
So, it seems a bit obvious to suggest drinking water—because you should be doing that anyway!
What you might not have heard is that drinking water is not the only way to hydrate while traveling. Other parts of your body get dehydrated—namely your skin. Thankfully remedying this is quite easy and just involves a little moisturizer or oil.
I find that rosehip seed oil does the trick for me. Putting a few drops on my face gives me a shot of much-needed moisture, while not making my face oily in the process. Extra bonus: Since it’s an oil, a little goes a long way—meaning you don’t exceed TSA liquid regulations.
As in most parts of your life, your food has a direct impact on your mood, and depending on whether you’re traveling east or west, the type of food you eat in-flight can have a direct impact on your energy levels once you land.
If you’re traveling east, try to eat heavier foods (such as burgers or potato-based foods). These types of foods tend to make you sleepier, and so when you land you’ll be able to sleep in the new timezone.
If you’re traveling west, try to choose foods that are high in protein. Your body releases the energy from high-protein foods over a longer period of time. So when you arrive from New York to Los Angeles and still have half a day, you’ll have the energy to stay awake until bedtime.
Delta recently partnered with Starbucks to offer Starbucks coffee on all Delta flights. While you might be tempted to take advantage of a free Starbucks coffee, the caffeine can screw with your sleep patterns. For this reason, go for a herbal tea or water.
The same goes for alcohol. It may help you fall asleep temporarily, but it’ll be short-lived and will lead to fatigue and dehydration in the long-run.
Finally, if you’re traveling for only a few days, or if the time difference isn’t that severe, consider not changing your sleep schedule.
It takes your body about a day to acclimate to one timezone change. So if you’re going from Los Angeles to New York for the weekend, it might be best to just keep with your original timezone.
With these tips on how to get over jet lag, you’re officially ready to vacation—grab your favorite pillow or a comfy sweater, and celebrate being jet lag-less!
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