Man sitting on plane thinking about how to beat jet lag

Five Ways to Beat Jet Lag

If you travel often, there’s a good chance that you’ve had to deal with jet lag before. This malady does not have to ruin your whole trip. Here are five ways to beat jet lag and arrive at your destination feeling well-rested and ready for anything.

1. Start Early

Jet lag generally occurs when you’re traveling across two or more time zones. One of the best ways to make sure that a time change doesn’t ruin your trip is to gradually acclimate to the new time zone before you even leave. Experts advise that, beginning a few days before you leave, you begin aligning your schedule with your destination’s schedule.

According to sleep specialist Dr. Lisa Medalie, people preparing to fly east should gradually move their bedtime a little earlier every day, whereas people preparing to fly west should gradually push their bedtime back a little every day. This way, you’ll defeat jet lag before it even occurs.

2. Don’t Sleep!

Well, you’ll need to sleep at some point, obviously, but if you reach your destination and find yourself exhausted at noon, you can’t succumb to your body’s desire for sleep. You need to get on the local schedule. To avoid nodding off by accident, plan some sort of activity or take a walk around town. Keep yourself occupied until a reasonable bedtime. Then you can rest, and you’ll wake up synchronized with local time.

3. Consider Sleep Aids

You may have no trouble at all staying awake until a reasonable bedtime. In fact, you may have the opposite time: you may stay up well past such a time, unable to sleep. In situations like this, you may want to consider a sleep aid.

Caffeine-free herbal teas and plant oils — like lavender — can calm the body and help you sleep more easily. If you find natural remedies don’t work, you may want to consult your doctor. If they believe it is appropriate, pharmaceutical options can be prescribed.

4. Create the Right Environment

Many of us have trouble sleeping in new places, which is why some experts suggest packing a “sleep kit.” This kit should contain items like comfortable clothing, personal blankets, earplugs, and eye masks.

You may also want to bring items that remind you of home — favorite pillows or family photos, for example. Using these various items can create a cozy, sleep-ready environment no matter where you are.

5. Get There Early

Try to schedule flights so that you’re not dashing straight from the airport to meetings or conferences. Experts recommend having at least half a day in between your arrival time and your first important obligation. This will give you time to adjust to your new environment and schedule. You’ll want to be engaged and alert during your meetings.

Jet lag is the bane of many a traveler, but it doesn’t have to be a problem for you. Follow these tips, and you’ll have no trouble crossing time zones.