I’ve Finally Conquered Jet Lag By Following These 8 Simple Rules

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Awesome Tips   Traveler's Toolbox  

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Jet lag used to get the best of me. I’d arrive at my destination worn out, loathing the process of renting a car and wishing I was home in my familiar bed. Or I’d return from a relaxing vacation with some sort of new sickness I’d swear I acquired on the stuffy plane.

Whether jet lag ruins your first few days of vacation or your first week back in the office, it’s always an unwanted visitor. But after years of just “toughing it out” through groggy days and a very short temper, I decided to put an end to my jet lag by following these eight simple rules.

#1. Choose the Perfect Seat

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In the heart of my jet lag days, I often found myself waiting until the day before my flight to log on and choose my seat on the plane — not knowing how important the comfort of my seat could be. And because I’m a budget traveler, business and first class seats are almost always out of reach. This is where exit rows and window seats come in incredible handy. Choose the exit row to allow yourself plenty of legroom, and couple that with your pillow propped against the window, and you’ll feel as close to first class as you can (without the remarkably high price tag).

#2. Resist Watching Movies and Other Screens

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Like most modern travelers, I often used my iPhone, MacBook and in-flight movies to keep myself entertained until I drifted off to sleep. It turns out all of these sources of entertainment emit blue-spectrum light that can keep you awake and make it difficult to fall asleep. Opt for a book, magazine or newspaper to help you doze off more easily.

#3. Stay Hydrated and Skip Alcohol

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I was once one of those travelers who thought a couple of drinks would put me in the perfect condition to doze off and stay asleep until landing. But alcohol can actually lead to more fragmented sleep, and studies show that staying properly hydrated can help you snooze better. So as much as you want to shell out some cash for an overpriced Bloody Mary, opt for a cup of water instead.

#4. Get Outside, Not Straight to Bed

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The darkness of an airplane cabin can tell your body that it’s nighttime even in the middle of the day. And there’s no doubt that arriving at your hotel room will make you want to drop onto the bed and take a “short” nap. Unfortunately, that short nap can turn into a few hours and mess up your sleep schedule for the first few days of your vacation. Take some time upon your arrival to get outside and explore your new surroundings or take a dunk in the pool, the natural light will help your internal clock adjust to your destination.

#5. Control Your Environment

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Falling asleep on a plane is far more complicated than falling asleep in your bed at home. Loud passengers, uncomfortable temperatures, excessive light and a number of other factors can ruin your attempts. Come prepared with a comfortable travel pillow, earplugs (or noise-cancelling headphones), a sleep mask to cover your eyes and don’t be afraid to grab one of the airline’s blankets from the storage compartment. You’ll be amazed at how much faster you fall asleep than when you’re trying to ignore the chatty and overly-excited passengers behind you.

#6. Don’t Be in a Hurry

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You may be in a rush to enjoy a night on the town in your new destination or to make it to an important meeting, but allowing yourself time to adjust in your new surroundings is essential. Dedicate the first night at your destination to relaxation, or if you must arrive on the same day as a business meeting, make sure you land at least a half-day early.

#7. Skip the Airline Eats

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This doesn’t mean you should avoid the pretzels and beverage offered on short flights, but airline meals are served according to the time at your place of departure instead of your destination. Opt for bringing your own meals on-board and eating on time with your new location. This will help your internal clock adjust before you even arrive, and jet lag will be kicked to the curb.

#8. Stock up on Protein and Work Out Daily

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The morning after your arrival can have a huge influence on your jet lag for the following few days. Squash your vacation-hindering jet lag by enjoying a protein-rich breakfast that will give your brain the nutrients it needs to keep you alert throughout the day. And don’t forget to increase your energy levels and promote better sleep by setting 30 minutes aside for exercise each day.

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About the Author: Courtney McCaffrey

Courtney McCaffrey is a freelance writer and editor based in Wilmington, N.C. In addition to writing, she lives for travel - seeing new places, learning new cultures and surfing new waves.

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