You know the feeling. After weeks of excitement leading up to your trip, packing your case carefully and researching your destination inside out, it’s finally time to board your flight. Sure, you think. Sleeping on board will be fine. A few glasses of red and I’ll be out like a light. Think again. Fast forward a torturous 12 hours and you haven’t actually slept a wink. In a sleep-deprived haze you somehow make it to your hotel and promptly pass out in bed in the middle of the afternoon, waking up feeling much more refreshed… right when you’re supposed to go to bed and go back to sleep. Except now you’re wide awake and can’t. Hello jet lag! Next time, kick jet lag to the curb and hit the ground running instead by avoiding these 9 common mistakes:
1. Sticking with your normal sleeping pattern leading up to your flight
In the week leading up to your flight, it’s time to begin preparing your body for a new time zone. Depending on where you’re going, try to get to bed a little bit earlier or later every night. If you’re flying east, you’re losing time, so try to gradually move your bedtime earlier. If you’re travelling west, you’re gaining time, so do the opposite. That way, when you arrive at your destination, your body has already started to adapt to the time zone difference.
2. Being a couch potato in the days before you depart
Your body will be better prepped for sleep if you’ve worked out in the days leading up to your flight. Go for a run, hit the gym (but avoid heavy weights which will leave you sore) or even do a few sessions of yoga. All of it will help you get some z’s.
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3. Drinking coffee, alcohol or sugary drinks on board
Even though the drinks cart moving through the cabin might be one of the most exciting things to happen in hours, show some restraint. No matter how good they might make you feel, coffee and alcohol are dehydrating (the opposite of what you need on a flight) and sugary drinks such as juices and soft drink will keep you awake. It might be boring, but opt for water or mint tea – you’ll thank yourself later.
4. Forgetting to change your watch to your new time zone
As soon as you settle into your seat, change your watch and your phone to your new destination’s time zone. From this point on, try and eat and sleep according to your destination and not your origin. This will help get your body on a different rhythm.
5. Not being smart about your seat selection
Not all seats are created equal and being stuck in a crappy seat can make or break your flight. Some seats have limited legroom, others don’t recline as much as others, and you really, really don’t want to be stuck near the baby bassinets, galley or toilets. Always check out Seat Guru before selecting your seat to make sure you don’t end up in one of these seats because it’s going to be really hard to get any rest if you do.
6. Flying cattle class when you can afford to upgrade
Let’s face it. You’re not going to get anywhere near as a good a sleep in economy as you are in business class. The noise-cancelling headphones, the real food and being able to actually lie flat in a bed in the provided pyjamas means that you’re going to arrive a hell of a lot more rested. Unfortunately, business class fares are notoriously expensive and are out of reach for the average Joe, or so it would seem. The website Let’s Fly Cheaper enables you to access business class fare deals at a fraction of the price you’ll find elsewhere.
7. Crawling into bed the moment you check in to your hotel
No matter how tempting it might be, the worst thing you can do is to go to bed during the middle of the day after you arrive. This is just going to make the jet lag even worse. The best thing to do instead is to have a shower then go out for something to eat. Keep moving and try as hard as you can to have a ‘normal’ first day at your destination. When you do eventually hit the sack (at night, when you’re supposed to), you’ll be able to sleep much better.
8. Eating crappy food after you land
Your first meal should be protein and nutrient-rich. This will help your body stay alert and energised. The worst things you can eat are fatty or sugary foods, which will make you crash even harder and leave you feeling even more icky that you already do after that long flight.
9. Staying indoors the day you arrive
If you arrive at your destination during the day, you really want to get out there and expose your body to some sunshine. This does wonders for your circadian rhythm and helps you to both stay awake and sleep when you’re supposed to. If you stay indoors all day after landing, your body isn’t going to know what to do.
Got an exciting trip planned soon? You might like:
- How to Survive a Long Haul Flight in 25 Tips
- The 10 Biggest Packing Mistakes You’re Making
- How to Manage Your Finances Overseas
Disclosure: this post was brought to you by Let’s Fly Cheaper, but of course, you can always trust that my opinion is my own! This post also contains some affiliate links.