Wendy Perrin shares the weird approaches to beating jet lag like blue light therapy, vitamins, and candles that remove curses.
But it really isn’t that hard.
The simple, best jet lag advice is to:
- Change your watch to local time in your arrival city when you get on the plane.
- Start behaving as if you’re on that local time as soon as possible, from your meals to sleep
- Go to bed as close to when the locals at your arrival city do.
When I take an overnight flight to Europe or Asia that arrives in the morning, I take a shower and change clothes. If it’s sunny, take a walk. If my schedule allows I will allow myself a nap. I will get up and make myself go out to dinner, ideally a late dinner, so that I’m tired and fall right to sleep when I get back to the hotel.
If I have the time I’ll let myself sleep in the next day, for me that means 8 am if I have the time, otherwise I’ll get up at 6 am per usual and will be more or less adjusted to the time right away.
But when it’s bed time, I go to bed. I have a tendency to get off of a long flight without internet and think I need to clear my mind, so I check in on e-mail and work and that just sets my mind racing with a million things.
- When arriving at a destination late at night, I will avoid work when I arrive at the hotel. My only concession is that while making the trip from the airport to hotel I will clean out email.
The two hardest things about jetlag are:
- Sleeplessness. Going to sleep, you wake up a few hours later and are up throughout the middle of the night. That makes the coming day tough. And it makes staying up through the day tough, but a nap just makes the cycle more likely to repeat.
- Flexibility. If you don’t have to push through you won’t, but the best thing to do is to make it until bedtime in your local destination.
I find adjusting to Europe is easy. I go over, stay up until bedtime, maybe sleep in a little bit and I’m fine by my second day. Returning from Europe I get tired by 7 pm for the first couple of days back home.
Coming back from Asia proves more challenge for me if I arrive late morning or in the afternoon. I do much better if I arrive in the US and still have to connect so that I don’t get home until late. That causes me to stay up, and go to bed at bedtime local time.
I find going to Asia the hardest, since being 12 hours off my body thinks it’s the exact opposite of local time — wants to sleep during the day, wants to be up at night. And the older I get the harder it is.
Whether Europe or Asia I love late night departures so that I’m tired enough to fall asleep on the plane when I want (remember: plan based on local time at your destination) and stay asleep.
And I love arriving at my destination mid-day because I can make it through to night — an early morning arrival means I’m likely to lose steam mid-day. That’s when a nap really works for me. A couple of hours in the afternoon and then staying up late.
Many folks suggest drinking lots of water (I do this anyway) and avoid alcohol and coffee (maybe great advice, but I’m not going to follow it)..
What’s your routine? How do you handle jetlag?