6 Simple Tricks for Beating Jetlag
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6 Simple Tricks for Beating Jetlag

I consider myself a bit of an expert on this topic. I had to renew my passport this year, two years ahead of its expiration date, because I ran out of stamp space even with the extra pages version. As I write this blog, I’m still waking up at the crack of dawn as my body adjusts back to Colorado time after working in Austria for two weeks.

Through it all, I’ve learned a number of important tips for minimizing the misery of having a body clock that says one thing and a wristwatch that says something entirely different. Since we’re in the midst of summer travel season, here are my favorite tips for traveling comfortably and surviving time zone changes.

1. Reset your watch and reset your circadian rhythms. When I get on my last flight, I change my watch so my brain starts thinking in that time zone. Even more important, I don’t leave home for an overseas journey without a homeopathic remedy like JetZone or No Jet Lag. My job requires me to be actively leading meetings and prepping for the week within hours of landing, and this stuff changed my life. Mush brain doesn’t happen anymore. I can process information and be coherent even on the first day. As amazing as these drugs are though, they’re not a total magic elixir. I got home from my last trip and within the hour I was cooking dinner. I fossilized the baked potatoes, burned the steaks, and forgot to turn off the propane. It’s a good thing I left the slicing and dicing to someone else. Of course, it does beg the question: Who thought I should be using matches when my body said it was 3:00 a.m.?

2. Drink copious amounts of water. I do. It’s the real reason I always choose the aisle seat. Humidity in airplanes is in the single digits. Caffeine and alcoholic beverages also contribute to dehydration. Moisturizing lotion and lip moisturizer are must haves. Even with the water, lotions, and lip balm, I arrive looking a little prune like. I can’t imagine how shriveled I’d look without them.

3. Set yourself up for comfort. Wear loose clothing and dress in layers. (If I could, I’d wear pajamas, but my husband always nixes that plan.) Planes are often chilly, even if you’re flying from Phoenix to Dallas in July. I’m always amazed at the people who travel wearing shorts and tank tops and am surprised I don’t hear their teeth chattering in flight. Wear comfortable shoes because your feet will swell. I always have socks along so I can take my shoes off without freezing my toes.

4. Create your own cocoon. An inexpensive eye mask blocks out the light, making it easier to sleep. Noise adds to stress, which can add to anxiety and even airsickness. Reducing it makes you less tired on arrival. Ten years ago my husband gave me noise-canceling headphones. If I only flew a few times a year, they probably wouldn’t be where I’d put my money, but for as much as I fly, they’ve been one of those priceless travel gadgets that I’ll replace in a heartbeat just before they finally wear out.

5. Sleep, whenever and however. I’m one of those lucky people who can fall asleep even on the 17-minute flight from Colorado Springs to Denver. Staying asleep is harder since even in the luxury of business class (when I’m fortunate enough to be there), a seat is not a bed. I’ve never tried either sleeping pills or melatonin but know plenty of people who find them effective. One thing not to depend on is alcohol. I once got on a 6:00 a.m. flight from Singapore to Los Angeles. The guy next to me slammed down four shots of vodka as his sleep aid. Thirteen hours later we landed and he still hadn’t slept, but he’d been miserably drunk for the first half of the flight. On international flights, I can usually manage to get three to five hours of sleep. When I get to my hotel, I take a nap but limit it to an hour and a half (one full sleep cycle), and then I shower and get busy. I’m always tired enough that I sleep like a log the first night I arrive. The second night is tougher, so I take an over the counter sleeping pill if I wake up in the middle of the night. It seems to work. By the fourth night, I’m back in my groove.

6. Boost your energy. As I go through the week, I still have periods of sleepiness during the day. I’m not a coffee drinker, and I’ve cut out soda, so I don’t have good ways to get that artificial jolt. A few years ago I discovered Zipfizz. It’s super high in water soluble B12 and natural caffeine sources. It gives a nice lift without keeping me awake later. I love the gentle but definite energy boost, especially in the first few days when I fight sleepiness at the most inconvenient times.

Enjoy your travels this summer. It’ll be easier if you can stay awake! ~Janelle