Frequent flyer miles can do a serious number on your body. Jet lag can strike hours or even days after your flight has landed and can make it hard to bounce back into your normal routine. And if you're crossing time zones? It's just that much worse.
Jet lag manifests itself as fatigue, bloating, insomnia, irritability, digestive issues, and general stress. Basically, the exact opposite of how you want to feel when you’re on your dream vacation or that long-anticipated business trip.
There are a few ways to naturally combat the symptoms of air travel without taking pharmaceutical drugs or relying on homeopathic remedies that may not work. Try these the next time you take to the sky and arrive at your final destination feeling clear and healthy.
Schedule the right flight
If you can, catch a flight that lands later in the evening so you can grab a quick bite (Nutrition tip: A carb-heavy meal at night will make your more sleepy than a protein-dense meal!) and then head straight to bed after your long travel day. Trouble falling asleep? Try a melatonin supplement to naturally stimulate your body’s own melatonin production. Instead of a sleeping pill that will leave you groggy the morning after, melatonin will just help your body fall asleep.
Regulate your light exposure
If your flight is overnight or you’re losing an entire night of sleep because of a long travel day, try to sleep on the plane. Yes, that's easier said than done, but there are a few tricks to set yourself up for success.
You’ll need to regulate your circadian rhythms and trick your body into thinking it’s time to zonk out, and you can do that by regulating your exposure to blue light and sunlight. The blue light from your screen time throws off your body’s natural sleep rhythms, so consider investing in a filter for your computer or smartphone that ease the effects of your constant Instagram stalking on your sleep. An eye mask will block any light from the cabin or windows and encourage your body to produce melatonin on its own.
You become more dehydrated at higher altitudes which is bad news for your skin and stomach.... and pretty much your entire body. Its obvious that drinking water while you’re in the air is important, but the 24 hours leading up to your flight is the prime time to pump your cells with H2O. Keep dehydration headaches at bay by swallowing a few caps of hyaluronic acid with your 8 oz. Hyaluronic acid retains water and delivers it to your cells, keeping joints lubricated and hydrated.
Get things moving
An unfortunate side effect of jet lag? Digestive issues. Uncomfortable stomach bloat or irregularity can put a damper on any culinary adventures in a new place. Try a magnesium supplement after meals to help your body adapt after a long travel day. Magnesium helps relax your muscles, so if your stomach is in knots after flying high it can ease your pain.
Try to de-stress
Sinking into zen mode can be one of the most important ways to fight jet lag. Between getting to the airport, making it through security, snagging an overhead bin, and making it to your seat, your stress hormones go through the roof. Take a second for yourself to breathe deeply to slow your heart rate and bring your cortisol levels down. Meditating while wearing a sleep mask can be super helpful to getting in the zone, and even sniffing some essential oils like lavender and vanilla can be useful... And your seat mates will thank you for a great smelling flight.
Even though there isn’t much we can do about the amount of leg room you’ll have, these tips can help save your next trip and make your travel time way more enjoyable.
Illustration by Karley Koenig