As a travel writer, I frequently fly across oceans and time zones. Here are my travel-tested tips to avoid jet lag or minimize jet lag fatigue.
1. Avoid alcoholic beverages, or salty drinks (like Bloody Mary mix) and caffeine during the flight.
2. Drink a glass of water every hour you travel.
3. Keep your feet elevated. Walk and stretch as much as possible.
4. Get some sleep on the plane. Most frequent international travelers I know use a sedative like Ambien to get restful sleep for four hours. Don’t mix alcohol and sedatives or trying to avoid jet lag will be the least of your worries!
5. Use soft silicone earplugs and eye shields to help block out noise and unwanted light.
6. You can’t sleep if you’re cold. Pack a sweater or light jacket.
7. If you arrive at your destination during daylight hours, take a walk in the sunlight. Daylight is a powerful stimulant that helps regulate your biological clock. Staying indoors, in artificial light, worsens jet lag.
8. If you must take a nap the day of arrival, make it no longer than two hours and set an alarm to be sure not to oversleep. Then stay up until 9 p.m. local time.
9. I take chewable, plant-based No-Jet-Lag tablets before and during the flight. They contain leopard’s bane, daisy and wild chamomile as active ingredients. Many travelers take melatonin to help them adjust to time differences and to sleep. It works for them, but not for me. Why not give both remedies a try?
10. Book overnight flights with no stops. Your flight schedule may affect jet lag. For example, I like to fly from California to Europe non-stop overnight, or leave for Australia at 11:45p.m., and arrive in Sydney two days later in the early morning. On these flights I have enough time to relax, eat dinner, sleep for a few hours during the night, and arrive in the morning, so I can walk in the daylight and go to bed early the first night. I also take a sedative the first night, so I won’t wake up at 3 a.m. and not be able to go back to sleep.