This is my brain on jet lag. It is solely focused on sleep right now, and all it can think about is my bed. I apologize in advance if this post is not coherent. I got back to Qatar last Thursday night, and I am still fighting jet lag. They say, whoever they are, that it takes a day to recover from jet lag for every hour time zone you cross. For me, this means I should be back to normal nine days from Thursday, and I am not going to try to figure out what day that is now. Which isn’t great since I went back to work yesterday. I will say that this trip’s jet lag is much better than I have had in Christmas’ past. Everyone who travels long distances has their own ways of coping with jet lag and not everything works the same for everyone. However, maybe my tips for overcoming jet lag will help you out.
Before/During the Flight
1. Hydrate – I have mentioned this before in my My Top 5 Tips for International Flights, but I cannot say it enough. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. I don’t just mean during the flight either. You should start hydration the day before you fly. This way you aren’t dehydrated on the plane.
2. Time Zone Check – Check the time zone you are going to. When should you be asleep there? Will it be drastically different, like my time zone change from Dallas to Doha? This will help you plan your sleeping schedule. If your time zone is only a few hours difference, maybe you can stay on your regular schedule and adjust your plans accordingly.
3. Sleep on the Plane – But not too much! Someone once recommended to me to sleep as much as possible on the plane, but this could lead to sleep failure if you are sleeping when you should be awake in the time zone you are traveling to. When I fly back from Dallas to Doha, I only allow myself to sleep till about noon Qatar time. This helps me to be tired enough to not only fall asleep but to stay asleep in Qatar.
4. Avoid protein on planes – This is totally my suggestion and may have no scientific evidence to prove me right or wrong, but I like it. I did this on my last trip home, both coming and going, with the exception of eggs for breakfast. Protein gives you energy and can keep you awake. For me, it also leads to interrupted sleep on the plane because I usually go to sleep right after eating on the plane and the digestive process wakes me up or gives me heartburn.
5. Noise Cancelling Headphones – Noise actually makes you more tired and wearing noise-canceling headphones can help combat that. It also helps lessen the noise when you have a screaming baby on your long-haul flight! I use these Bose In-Ear Headphones, which are a bit pricey, but they are very effective and comfortable. I bought my parents and my niece these Sony ones that my Dad said were great too. Either way, any noise reduction you can get will help curb the tiredness from flying.
After the Flight
1. Continue to Hydrate – Your body works best when hydrated. Our bodies are mostly made up of water, and it needs it to function properly.
2. Get some mid-day Sun – Getting mid-day sun has helped me tremendously in getting over jet lag. It says to your body, “Hey, its daytime sleepy head!” Basically, it tells your internal clock to reset itself. I usually try to go outside around noon for about 10 to 15 minutes for the first couple of days.
3. Nap – This may seem contrary to the goal, but you still have to function in your current time zone, and you may need a nap to do so. Just make sure to set an alarm or you will sleep for three hours! I even take the nap with low lights on to help encourage me to get up.
4. Stay up late – This may seem like a cruel impossible task. If you are the kind of jet-lagged person that has trouble falling asleep, but not staying asleep, this may not apply to you. However, if you are like me and could fall asleep in the shower with jet lag, then staying up later than you normally helps me to stay asleep.
5. Don’t get out of bed – If you wake in the night, do not get out of bed. Lay in bed with the lights off. I used to get up and turn on the lights. Worst mistake I could have ever made. You are telling your body clock that it is daytime, and it is time to get up. Usually, I fall back to sleep in about 10 to 15 minutes. Whatever you do, don’t look at your phone or turn on the tv.
Jet lag is not fun, and I would be lying if I said I had no jet lag from this trip even after I have done all of these things, but this is the least jet lag I have had from a transatlantic flight. My daytime sleepiness is tolerable, and I haven’t had lots of nausea like I usually do. I used to wake up about 4 hours after I went to bed and would be awake for 3-4 hours and go back to sleep about an hour before I needed to be up! Now, I am sleeping from about 10 or 11 pm, waking about every two hours and going back to sleep and waking up around 5 am. I am very happy with that. No, this does not count the naps during the day, and I need to be better about not taking such long ones. Since yesterday was a work day, I did not get a nap.
I have had different jet lag symptoms this time, though, not sure if that is the right phrase. My appetite is completely gone. I think all I ate on Friday was a tortilla with butter, an apple and some party mix. My dreams have been really vivid and strange. Last night I got nauseated while eating and decided it wasn’t worth continuing to eat. I still have my usual lack of concentration and brain fog. Let’s hope this post is making sense!
How do you cope with jet lag? Any tips or tricks? Share in the comments!