There’s nothing worse than feeling out of sync with the world as you struggle to adjust to a new timezone—especially when you’re on vacation and eager to get out an explore a new place. While every body is different, there are a handful of ways you can help yours make the adjustment more quickly. Here are 12 useful tips to keep jetlag from ruining your trip.
Time your flight. Your first defense against jetlag comes even before you book your ticket: timing your flight to minimize the disruptions to your usual schedule as much as possible. If you’re flying east, try to take an early morning flight so that you can start adjusting to the new timezone right away. If you’re flying west, a nighttime flight can help you ease into the time change with a few extra hours. Also consider the timing and location of any layovers, these can either seriously help you or hurt you—say, if you were hoping to sleep on the flight.
Get plenty of sleep before your trip. One of the best ways to combat jetlag is to make sure you’re well rested before you even get on the plane. Don’t lat packing and last-minute trip prep keep you up until all hours the night before you leave.
Start adjusting to the new timezone before you leave. If you can, start incrementally adjusting your sleep schedule in the days before leaving for your trip so you’re not making a sudden, drastic change to your routine. Even adjusting your body’s rhythms by an hour or two before you depart can speed up the process once you’ve reached your destination.
Drink lots of water. Keeping your body well-hydrated can also help you to feel less groggy.
Get some exercise. A little bit of physical activity after you arrive will help to wake you up and get your blood flowing so you can power through until your new bedtime.
Avoid alcohol, and don’t overdo the caffeine. Both of these can make jetlag worse by disrupting your sleep. While caffeine can be a great tool to give yourself a jump start on sluggish morning, don’t drink it late into the day, or it may make your timezone transition more difficult by disrupting your sleep even further.
Eat lighter meals. Heavy meals can make you feel sluggish, so stick to lighter fare.
Get some sunlight. Exposure to natural light will help to regulate your body’s internal clock. This is especially important in the morning, and later in the day when you’re starting to feel drowsy.
Don’t overdo it on your first day. Once you arrive at your destination, it may be tempting to try to stay up all day and night so you can make the most of your trip. However, this will only make it harder to adjust to the new timezone. Instead, take it easy on your first day. Try to get to bed at a reasonable hour, and get a good first night of sleep.
Avoid napping during the day and set an alarm in the morning. There’s nothing worse than sleeping the day away while you could be out exploring a new place—and it’s also going to keep your body from getting used to its altered schedule. Set an alarm in the morning and do what you can to get up as soon as it goes off. And don’t be tempted into a short 30 minute nap in the afternoon, unless you know you can avoid letting it stretch on to several hours. You don’t want to wake up from that “short nap” at 10 p.m.
If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, try a natural sleep aid like melatonin. This supplement isn’t a an all-purpose sleep hack, but it can help you to fall asleep faster, and stay asleep.
Repeat these steps before you return home. Just as you started adjusting to the new timezone before you even left, you should repeat the process before you return home. This will help to ease the transition and make it less likely that you’ll experience jetlag once you’re back—when you’ll already be depressed enough that your trip is over.