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Let’s be honest, jet lag sucks. I mean, it’s often the result of traveling to or from amazing destinations, but it’s by far the worst part of air travel. There are ways to minimize the effects of jet lag, luckily! Read on for tips to stop jet lag in it’s tracks – or at least make it easier to deal with!
What IS jet lag?
Jet lag disorder is the term given to temporary sleep disruptions caused primarily by changing multiple time zones in a short period of time.
The jet lag meaning came about because cross-country flight involves traveling across multiple time zones, which worsens the likelihood and effects.
What Are The Symptoms of Jet Lag?
Jet lag manifests as insomnia, early waking, or general sleepiness after traveling. Jet lag symptoms can vary from person to person, and some lucky people may have minimal effects.
I am so not one of those people, so jet lag definitely affects me.
Start planning to beat jet lag well before you even take off for your trip! Living in Alaska with my family in Florida means we regularly take 12+ hour trips.
The very first trip home after moving from Puerto Rico, I booked a red-eye since it was cheaper.
We landed at 10am EST, which was 6am our time. We tried to power through the day, but after a sleepless night on the plane, it just wasn’t possible.
When we collapsed and needed a nap, I figured okay, set an alarm for an hour then try to push through the rest of the day.
Wellll…we slept right through that alarm and awoke 3 hours later. Which basically wasted our first day, which also made it a rough, sleepless night.
Future trips involving changing time zones are now booked to arrive ideally between 3pm and 10pm.
That ensures you can arrive at your destination and by the time you arrive at your hotel, cruise, or rental, you’ll be ready to crash and start fresh the next day.
If you absolutely must arrive at your destination in the morning, do everything you can to stay busy after you land.
Also, try your best to avoid taking a nap. It’ll be tough but well worth it once you get a great night’s sleep and awake refreshed.
Splurge on Upgraded Seats
I’m pretty cheap and have only traveled in economy so far, so I’ve had to make the thinner, more narrow seats work. It’s totally doable to survive in economy seats!
Spending more moolah on business or first class will go a long way as a jet lag cure, however. The more padded, cozy seating, plus extra leg room and a bit extra space to recline will help drastically!
Change Time Zones ASAP
The moment you step onto that plane, mentally move yourself into your destination’s time zone. Eat, sleep, and move according to that time.
If it’s currently daytime wherever you’re traveling to, treat your time on the plane the same. Just be careful not to get confused and miss any connecting flights if you have a layover!
Take more frequent breaks for stretching during the “day” while on the plane. It’ll keep you from getting stiff and sore.
Stay Hydrated Both On the Plane and After Arrival
There’s nothing worse than landing and realizing you have a major headache from dehydration. The dry air on planes is dehydrating enough, so you have to ensure you’re compensating for it.
Sure, it’s tempting to cut back on liquids so you don’t need to use the tiny restroom as much, but it’s not worth sacrificing your health. To make it easier, try to visit the bathroom when your seat mates do so you don’t have to wake them up.
The best way to get enough water is by bringing along an eco-friendly water bottle. It saves you more in the long run from spontaneously purchasing $5 throw-away bottles at Starbucks.
Most airports now have water refill stations so you can fill up after security and during layovers.
I love this Copco water bottle since it’s lightweight and durable. It travels well and you can even add ice cubes if needed!
Sleep Onboard When It’s Night Time at Your Destination
If it’s night time at your destination, try to get some shut-eye. Window seats are the best for getting uninterrupted sleep, since you’re not waking up to let your seat mates out.
Make sure to buckle your seat belt over your jacket or blanket so the airline staff doesn’t wake you up to check if you’re buckled up during turbulence.
Some people swear by taking melatonin for jet lag to help them sleep. If you want to try it, consider testing it at home first to see how it affects you.
I personally like Klova Sleep ZPatches for helping with jet lag.
It’s a sticky patch that adheres to your skin and slowly releases melatonin and plenty of other beneficial ingredients like valerian and l-theanine (MY FAVORITE) to promote relaxation and ease jet lag effects.
They do leave a bit of a sticky residue once removed, so make sure to place it in an inconspicuous spot. It comes off easily with soap, but you might not feel like scrubbing it off until you get settled in your hotel.
Bring Comfort Items in Your Carry-on
I forgot my eye mask during a redeye flight to Colorado for vacation. Normally, that’s not a huge issue for me as I can pretty much ignore the low levels of light once the cabin is dimmed. Not so much on this flight, unfortunately!
The TV in the seatback was on, and the controls in the armrest weren’t working. I couldn’t change the programming or turn off the TV.
A 6-hour long flight with nothing but super bright flashes from Aquaman playing right in front of my eyeballs did a number on my sleep! I mean, I like Jason Momoa and all, but did not want to be staring at that alllll night long!
Soak up Some Sunshine
The best way to to boost jet lag recovery and help get your circadian rhythm back on track is to wallow in the sunshine. It stimulates your body into resetting the day/night cycle and makes it easier to stay awake until it’s an acceptable time to fall asleep.
Eat A Meal Full of Carbs When Arriving
I don’t know about you, but eating a carby meal tires me right out! Filling up on carbs before bed after getting to your destination will help you sleep soundly and kick start your first full day of vacay.
I have a standing request with my mom to make my absolute favorite meal – linguine with clam sauce – every time I’m headed home. I swear it helps me get back on track after a long flight!
Get Quality Sleep
Once you’ve eaten a nice filling meal, you’ll be dreaming of catching those ZZZs. Try to hold off on falling asleep until at least 9pm, though. That will keep you from waking up too early and messing up your next day’s adventures.