Jet lag is a very real condition (whoever told you “it isn’t a thing” must not believe in body clocks) and it can hamper all the wild travel experiences you have planned — either by stopping you from sleeping when you should or by making you fall asleep in the middle of the day. The good news is: Jet lag is also easily manageable. The problem is that there’s so much static out there, from snake oil salesmen hawking remedies to plainly bad information, that knowing what to do to cure jet lag gets lost in the shuffle.
First and foremost, it’s best to think of jet lag as something you manage not cure. There’s no simple fix — but it is easily manageable with a few easy steps (which NASA has been nice enough to figure out for us). These steps aren’t universal and depend entirely on the direction you’re flying — as in, dealing with jet lag when flying from L.A. to London is almost completely different than dealing with it when flying from London to L.A. But still… it’s not terribly complicated.
Below are the scientifically tested and approved tactics for managing jet lag without overtaxing your body.
1. ESSENTIALS WHILE IN THE AIR
We all have a set of items we pack for the plane. Some of us bring on water bottles we can fill up, others will insist on those u-shaped neck pillows. Snacks, tablets, books are also popular choices. And all of that is okay. But the most essential carry on for any traveler is a blackout eye mask that’s also very comfortable.
There’s a very good reason that an eye mask is among the few items that flight crews hand out for free on long-haul flights — even in coach. You are going to need to sleep on that flight no matter which direction you’re flying. While the eye masks that are often free on the flight work (in theory): They’re often thin and ill-fitting. You need to sleep and getting a cozy eye mask that blocks out all light will assist in that process. Something like 1 Voice’s sleep headphones eye mask does the trick with both comfort and light blocking. Plus you can put on some soothing music to lull you to sleep (though that’s not the highlight here).
Second to the flight mask: You need to drink and we don’t mean alcohol. Maybe have a wine or a beer to take the edge off, but really you want to be throwing down as much water as possible. Staying hydrated will help your body to stay balanced and not lead to exhaustion. As with exercise: Water is your friend.