Traveling enriches your life and improves your overall wellbeing in myriad ways. Jet lag, on the other hand, is arguably its most undesirable side effect.
Sometimes it feels like your body finally adjusts to a new time zone just in time for you to return to your old one. Few travelers are more familiar with this struggle than flight attendants.
To find out some of the best ways to deal with this less than glamorous side of travel, we chatted with international flight attendant and HuffPost blogger David Puzzo, as well as former flight attendant and author Abbie Unger. As the owner of Flight Attendant Career Connection, Unger offers support to professional and aspiring flight attendants, and has learned that the best way to combat jet lag depends on knowing your body. Check out some of the top tips below.
1. Drink Water. Lots Of It.
Flying can send your body for a loop, especially in terms of hydration. Remaining hydrated is key to feeling great when you step on and off the plane, and will help prevent you from feeling weak, headachy or extra tired during your travels. Beverages like coffee and alcohol will only dehydrate you, which could make dealing with jet lag even worse. Unger advises people to avoid caffeine after 3 p.m. "Between the time zone change and the travel, your body is going through a lot," Unger says. "Drink plenty of water and you will feel better."
2. Take A Nap When You Arrive.
Letting your body rest when it needs to is crucial. "If you're tired, just sleep," says Puzzo. "There's no sense in saying, 'I have to wait 7 more hours to sleep because I need to get accustomed to the new time zone.'"
Unger suggests taking a short nap once you arrive at your destination, but to try to avoid sleeping for more than a couple hours. Puzzo agrees, saying that on long international flights, it's a good idea to allow yourself one day to just acclimate: "I know people want to hit the ground running, but that could do more harm than good for you."
3. Book The Flight That Works Best For You.
Some people can sleep on a redeye, and others just can't. Know which one works best for you and plan accordingly, says Puzzo. "I know that if I'm stuck in economy for 12 hours in a middle seat from [New York City] to Hong Kong, I'm not going to sleep well or at all," says Puzzo. "So I opt to take a day flight which leaves me in Asia in the evening, which usually lets me go right to hotel, check in and sleep. This method has proved best for me, and I've been doing it more and more lately and feel so much better." We can't argue with that.
4. Live By The Sunlight.
"Sunlight is the best way to change your internal clock to a new time
zone," says Unger. And she says it begins on your first night in your new destination. When going to sleep, maintain your nighttime routine. Make sure your room is completely dark when you get into bed, and you might want to opt for an eye mask and earplugs just in case sunlight creeps in and wakes you up prematurely. When you do decide to wake up, rip open those curtains and let the sunshine pour in.
5. Don't Forget To Eat.
"I can't tell you how many times I woke up in the middle of the night in Europe starving because I hadn't eaten in a few hours and my body thought it was mealtime," says Unger. The former flight attendant purchases an extra sandwich to keep in her room so she can always eat something before going to bed.