It’s your first night in Italy, and you’re awake in your hotel room, miserably awaiting sleep. As the clock ticks slowly towards morning, that 7 a.m. bus trip to the Sistine Chapel is sounding more and more tortuous by the minute.
What can turn the beginning of a long-awaited dream vacation into three days of feeling like an irritable, red-eyed zombie? Jet lag. Blame it on your internal clock—that mastermind of sleep and wakefulness that keeps you humming happily in your day-to-day routine. As soon as you cross two or more time zones—WHAM!—the whole system gets thrown off track.
The good news is that you can take steps to minimize jet lag and ease into your new routine. Get a plan online at Jetlag Rooster or just abide by the following tried and true tips.
Yes, we know depriving yourself on your vacation sounds like no fun at all, but one of the worst things you can do for jet lag is to imbibe right before, during, or right after a flight. So do yourself a favor and schedule that winery tour a few days into your vacation.
Take Off Well-Rested, Hydrated and Nourished
Turn in early the night before your flight so that you’re well rested before you travel. This will make jet lag more bearable and easier to overcome. On the day of the flight, stay hydrated with lots of water and avoid caffeine and sugary drinks that can cause your energy levels to rise and plummet. You can also keep your energy up by eating several small, nutritious meals throughout the day.
One thing you can do to get a head start is to adjust to your destination’s time zone before you even set foot on the plane. If you’re heading east, go to sleep an hour earlier than usual for a few days before your flight. If you’re traveling west, stay up a little later than normal. But keep in mind that planning ahead—and adjusting to a new time zone in general—is only recommended if you’ll be at your destination for more than two days.
Say No to Naps
No matter how much you want to have an afternoon rendezvous with your hotel room bed, stay awake until your bedtime in your new time zone. It may be painful, and it may not be what you’re craving, but it will be worth it in the end. In the meantime, go outside, soak up the sunlight, get fresh air and exercise, and in general, keep yourself moving and awake.
Decide When Rest is Best
While you’re travelling, try to abide by your destination’s time zone. If it’s nighttime there, then try to sleep and get some rest. On the other hand, if it’s noon there, try to keep yourself awake, even if you’re in the middle of your flight.
Ditch the In-Flight Movie for Better Sleep
Think you’ll be lulled into dreamland by that seemingly benign romantic comedy? Think again. Your best bet is to opt out of watching the movie and shut off your tablet, cell phone or computer. That mesmerizing blue light they emit can delay sleep and leave you restless. A better idea is to don a sleep mask and ear plugs to eliminate stimulating lights and noises.