Jet lag is a given when traveling and I have been trying reverse mine for the past few days. Normally, I only experience it when I am traveling from East to West even though jet lag is normally tougher flying West to East. Even then, I am only fatigued for a few hours. For some reason, advancing my internal clock does not bother me as I am a 3am kind of night owl and this type of travel fits closer to my normal circadian rhythm when my creativity is wide open and my brain is ready to party.
However, I flew home from London Wednesday and am entire body is out of whack. If it weren’t for hot, caffeinated beverages I would be face down in my keyboard right now.
When I landed last week in London, it was 8:00am GMT after an all night flight where I only slept two hours. (Imagine having your husband and son on one side and the other person on the opposite side is eating a party bag size of chips on the other for EIGHT HOURS while watching movies and playing solitaire of their phone the entire time.) After dropping our bags at the hotel and exploring all day, we were in bed at 21:00pm GMT (4:00pm ET) and up at 6:00am the next day raring to go. No jet lag. (Go figure.)
Why jet lag now?
I’m assuming it’s due to a myriad of things. When we landed back in Charlotte, it was 23:30pm GMT or 6:30pm. I blame what happened next on my well-documented coffee addiction. I did not nap on the plane, thinking I would come home, have Chinese take-away and go to bed early. That is, until I saw my coffee maker in the kitchen. Coffee is everywhere in London, but not American style drip coffee. I was also not successful in finding a good pour-over or French press, soooooo I made and then drank a pot of coffee and then was up until 4 am GMT or 11:00 pm ET.
I’m smart like that.
Your body normally adjusts to jet lag by time zones. One day for every one to two time zones crossed. For my trip, that is five time zones and I should be normalizing, but my body still wants to be wide awake at 7:00am GMT /2:00 am ET.
What can I do to help my jet lag?
- Hydrate. Jet lag is partially a result of dehydration. The mid-flight cocktails are tempting, but you are better asking for another bottle of water.
- Melatonin is a hormone that tells you brain to when it is time to wind down and go to sleep. I take the Olly melatonin gummies to help me get some much needed shut eye.
- Avoid eating. I do not much before I fly and I am flying short distances, I don’t eat anything at all on the plane. For longer flights, I buy a salad in the airport with greens and grilled chicken to avoid heavy fats and carbohydrates.
- Caffeine dehydrates you when you’re flying. Avoid the soda and ask for the attendants to top off your glass of water.
- Get some sun. Sunshine is essential for resetting your internal clock.
- Traveling East? Morning light and evening melatonin to fast-forward your body clock.
- Traveling West? Evening light and morning melatonin to rewind your body clock
- Avoid blue light. Turn off your smartphone and tablets. Blue light creates a whole host of sleep issues and makes falling asleep during and after travel a nightmare. This is why I always carry a paperback or magazine to read and wind down.
- Shower smarter. A cold shower in the morning will help jolt your body into a state of alertness, while a warm one at night will tell your body it’s time to sleep.
Want to learn more about how to beat jet lag when traveling from coast to coast in the US? Click here to read my notes on traversing the US from coast to