Get Some Sleep
If you think staying up the night before will help you sleep on the plane, you’d be dead wrong. Lots of people end up sleeping lightly on the eve of their trip because of pre-flight jitters or go to bed late on purpose to tire themselves out. Very few people can fall deeply asleep on a crowded flight and you’ll simply be even more exhausted when you arrive at your destination. Go to bed at your usual time and get a good night’s sleep.
Take the Red-Eye
Even though you’ll be tired, it’s easier to stay awake for a long day than arrive at night and force yourself to go to bed when your body isn’t ready to sleep. You’re likely to spend hours staring at the ceiling, sleep through half the next morning, and prolong the time it will take for your body to adjust to the new time zone. Whenever possible, try to arrive at your destination in the morning or early afternoon and never in the evening.
Stay off the Stimulants
Visiting the bar before getting on a flight is never a good idea and drinking alcohol onboard will only intensify your fatigue, leaving you feeling queasy and dehydrated. Caffeine drinks like coffee, tea and cola won’t help either, keeping you awake and prolonging your recovery time. Stick to water and juice or herbal tea. Sleeping pills are also a bad idea because you don’t want to be groggy and disorientated when you arrive in a strange place and need to change planes or get yourself out of the airport.
Take Advantage of Stopovers
You may actually be able to find a cheaper flight by staying over at a midpoint in your travels. For instance, flying through Iceland when going from North America to Europe can be less expensive and you have the added bonus of seeing Reykjavik. A stopover in Fiji or Tahiti is a great way to break up a haul over the Pacific, and you’ll be giving your body time to adjust more gradually to turning your day upside-down.
Even if you can’t sleep on the plane, feeling relaxed will go a long way to combating jet lag. Stress seems to magnify symptoms of irritability and exhaustion, so make sure you chill-out on the journey. Your need a reclining seat, so stay away from some exit rows and the back end of the cabin. A window seat gives you a resting place for your pillow and keeping the leg room free of baggage helps you stretch out. Go for a walk up the aisle every couple of hours to keep the blood flowing and be sure to bring a blanket if the airline doesn’t provide one. Earplugs or a noise-deadening headset can be a lifesaver if you’re seated near the galley or a row of crying babies.
The real key to getting over jet lag is not to fight it. Try to adjust gradually to your new surroundings and if you really need a nap when you arrive, take one. Don’t plan on doing too much in the first forty-eight hours if you’ve just crossed more than three time zones, thinking of everything you do get to see and do in that time as a plus. The good news is that jet lag passes within a couple of days. You can also take consolation in the fact that you don’t have to train your body to cope permanently with erratic hours the way shift workers do.