When we traveled to Bali two years ago I was really concerned about the 15 hour time difference. I didn’t want to spend the first couple days tired and lethargic, so I did what I always do and went into some heavy research. I came up with a list of easy tips that can make transitioning into a new time zone a little easier. I’ve put these tips to the test on multiple trips and can confidently say they DO work! I’ve never experienced jet lag, even with huge time changes.
3 days before flight
During the days leading up to your trip it’s important to take extra good care of your body. The healthier you are going into it, the more capable your body will be of handling the stress of long travel days.
This is probably most important! Flying is super dehydrating in general so it’s a good idea to go into it as hydrated as possible. I aim to double my water consumption before I fly.
Reduce caffeine intake
This helps a lot when dealing with major time changes. The week leading up to a flight, cut back to just one caffeinated drink per day. Then skip caffeine completely the day of flight. Waiting to have your first caffeinated drink in the morning at your destination will give you a nice boost of energy and kickstart your transition into the new time zone.
Try to move your body in some way everyday leading up to your flight. Yoga, jogging and light strength training are all great options. Although, I do try to avoid anything too intense or rigorous as being sore on an airplane can be uncomfortable.
Alcohol is known to be extremely dehydrating and can disturb your sleep. It’s best to hold off on alcohol until you reach your destination. This ensures you’ll feel your best upon arrival.
Jet lag rooster app
If you’re interested in shifting your body to your destination time zone ahead of time, you can download this app. It will show you exactly how to shift your schedule based on your bed time, waking hours and travel plans.
Day of flight
Meditation and stress relief
A big part of the discomfort of losing sleep comes from the STRESS of knowing that you’re going to lose sleep. Try to avoid dwelling on the fact that you have a long day ahead of you. Bring essential oils, listen to a mediation or calming music and just relax.
Limit the use of electronics
Avoid using electronics between 10pm and 6am (destination time). Cell phones, laptops and tablets emit blue light which can shut down the bodies production of melatonin, making it harder to transition into a new time zone.
Shift meals times
Meal times can affect your bodies internal clock just like light exposure does. Start to shift your meal times closer to your destinations meal times 24 hours before your flight.
Wearing a blackout eye mask is a great way to simulate night time. So if it’s the middle of the night at your destination, it would be a good idea to wear an eye mask to start shifting your circadian rhythm to the time at your destination. Instead of watching movies or reading, I opt to keep my eyes closed to prevent them from feeling tired and strained. There’s nothing worse than having heavy, sleepy eyes. If you aren’t able to sleep, listen to music or a podcast. I always make sure to have a few podcasts pre downloaded before we take off.
Get up and walk around
I try to stand up at least once per hour on long flights. This helps with feelings of anxiousness and also gets your blood moving a bit. Sometimes I’ll even find a spot to do a really quick stretch if possible.
Fasting while up in the air has been a game changer for me. Our bodies are under a huge amount of stress while flying, making it challenging to digest food. I used to get extremely bloated and have bad stomach issues after flying. I’ve been able to alleviate that completely by fasting. It can also help reset your body to a new timezone. Still drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
There is something really nice about making the effort to do a little self-care on an airplane. It can be as simple as going to the bathroom to brush your teeth or wash your face. Little things like that can instantly make you feel more refreshed. I like to bring collagen eye pads, rose hip oil and my gua sha to give myself a mini facial. The gua sha can help ease inflammation too.
I always pack Natural Vitality CALM magnesium travel packets to drink on the plane. Magnesium naturally helps your muscles relax, making it easier to sit still for long periods of time. My legs get extremely restless on airplanes so this has been really helpful. It’s also good for digestion. Just ask your flight attendant for a glass of hot water, stir in your magnesium, relax and enjoy!
I always bring a small lemon and a wooden knife with me on the plane (you could also pack pre-sliced lemon wedges). I’ll ask the flight attendant to fill up my mason jar with room temp water and then I’ll squeeze a generous amount of lemon into it. This helps with bloating and digestion.
Compression socks help increase circulation in your legs which can reduce restlessness and swelling, making it easier to sit still.
Cold showers decrease inflammation and cause your body to naturally release adrenalin, making you feel more alert. They’ve also be shown to reduce stress and have a calming affect.
One of the most effective things you can do to shift your circadian rhythm is to expose yourself to natural light first thing in the morning, especially in the first few days.
Kick off your shoes and ground yourself on grass, sand, soil or any other earth matter. Going for a swim in the ocean is also a great option. Earthing has be shown to help reduce inflammation, improve sleep and normalize stress hormones. To learn more about earthing and why is works you can read this article from Dave Asprey.
Getting outside and moving first thing in the morning raises your body temperature, which signals to your body that it is day time. This can be very effective for resetting circadian rhythms.
Avoid napping if possible
As tired as you might be after a long travel day, do your best to stay awake when it’s day time. Taking naps will only prolong your bodies transition into a new time zone. Instead try to get outside in the sunshine and let light into your eyes. Go for a walk or get in a short workout. You will have much more luck falling asleep and staying asleep at night if you avoid napping during the day.
reduce blue light exposure at night
In an effort to regulate circadian rhythms, it’s a good idea to reduce exposure to anything that might signal your body into thinking it’s day time. This is especially important during the first few days of your trip. Try to limit exposure to bright lights and electronics at least 3 hours before the time you intend on going to bed. Reading or listening to a podcast are better options than scrolling on your phone or watching TV.
Legs up the wall
During long flights fluid collects in your legs causing inflammation and pressure. Legs up the wall helps decrease swelling and increase blood flow. I try to do it for at least 15 minutes upon arrival. Extra points if you do it at the airport or even on the airplane. Sometimes I’ll put my legs on the seat in front of me. It feels amazing, although there is a certain degree of flexibility required to get into this position on an airplane haha.
Support the adrenal glands
Long travel days can be taxing on our adrenal glads. To support them you can take Solaray Adrenal Success supplement or Ashwaganda. These supplements have been shown to ease stress, calm the nervous system and support quality sleep.
L-Tyrosine is an amino acid that converts into adrenalin helping to increase mental focus and alertness. It also promotes a good mood!