Your journey begins in the elegant lounge of fill-in-the-blank airline as you eagerly await your flight to fill-in-the-blank-luxurious-destination. You sip champagne until it’s time to board your flight, drift into sleep shortly after takeoff (or dinner) and hope to arrive rested at your destination. But no matter how flat your seat may lie, and how many champagnes you sip before takeoff, nothing can thwart the upside-down sense of disorientation that is jet lag. We’re not talking JFK-LAX, we’re talking JFK-HKK. Your body says it’s nighttime even though it’s daytime, your eyes feel like they’re turned inside out, and your stomach definitely has no idea what day it is.
So what do you do? Check into your suite and nap the pain away? NO! You are not going to miss a day of this vacation just because you left your circadian rhythm back in New York. Fortunately, you have several options, none of which involve caffeine (which will act as a quick fix, but when that crash comes you’ll be back to your former topsy-turvy state):
- Get a Massage
On our first trip to Thailand, we received an invaluable piece of travel advice: as soon as you touch down in Bangkok, head straight to Wat Pho for a Thai massage. And while this massage school at the Temple of the Reclining Buddha was not the best massage we’ve ever had, after nearly 24 hours of travel, it definitely woke up our muscles and joints and energized the entire body. The good news is you can try this solution wherever you are; whether you’ve just landed at your home airport and want to summon a Zeel massage therapist to meet you at your front door, or at your hotel’s spa (which may very likely be staffed with Zeel therapists as well.) Depending whether your jet lag is taking the form of not-awake-enough or too awake, you might like to try a Sports Massage, which combines the stretching of a Thai massage with a more targeted deep tissue massage, or a Sleep Massage, which is designed to induce a calm and deep state of rest.
- Go Into the Light (or the Dark)
We all know that jet lag occurs when your internal clock is out of sync with the external light and dark cycles. So how do you get your body onto the new cycle? By exposing it to light (or dark). But it’s not as straightforward as going outside. In a study published in the journal of Sleep Medicine Reviews, researchers devised a meticulous system for determining whether you should strategically expose or strategically avoid light, depending on the number of time zones crossed. Thankfully you can calculate this automatically using the handy-dandy website Jet Lag Rooster by entering in your travel and destination details.
- Eat a Meal
Another way to adjust your body to your new time zone is to eat when the locals do. Your digestive system and your circadian rhythm are very closely linked, and eating a meal at the appropriate time of day can help “recalibrate” your body to the new schedule more quickly. What better excuse to start enjoying the local cuisine?
- Boost Your Melatonin
Your brain naturally has hormones that tell it when to be sleepy, so by increasing the amount, you’re sending that signal on your new time zone rather than your body’s. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Your body treats melatonin as a darkness signal, and generally has the opposite effect of bright light.” OLLY Sleep supplements are a combination of Melatonin, L-Theanine and botanical extracts (in a delicious blackberry-minut gummy form) to help mellow your mind, calm your senses and get your sleep back on track.
- Stop Looking at the Clock
Or iPhone or Apple Watch. Stressing about how confused your brain/body is from your jetlag, not to mention doing the math to calculate what time it is where you aren’t (“if it’s 3AM here, it’s only 3PM back in Singapore…”) is only going to increase your anxiety and brain activity, making matters worse. Try some sleep techniques, like meditative breathing and counting inhales and exhales, and keep those eyes closed.
The one advantage of having a body clock that’s out-of-whack? You can make that 6AM bootcamp class, depending which direction you’re coming from. And getting your heart pumping and your blood flowing can help reset your out-of-synch body clock to propel you through the rest of the day. A recent study published in The Physiological Society journal confirmed that moderate exercise affects our circadian rhythms, and can potentially assist our bodies in adjusting to the new time schedule. Plus, outdoor exercise has the dual advantage of including exposure to sunlight. What better way to explore your new city than to go for a run?
- Know Your CBD’s
The CBD craze has taken America by storm (does anyone else feel like we were really square before?), while the scientific community is taking a little longer to back up why exactly it should be your new go to for relaxation, muscle aches and any other gripe you may have. However recent studies confirmed the idea that CBD can help those suffering from insomnia with both falling and staying asleep. “Most people don’t know that CBD is actually one of the best solutions for jet lag, as it addresses nearly all of its uncomfortable symptoms,” says Drew Todd, co-founder of Feals, an upscale, direct-to-consumer CBD startup. “In fact, higher doses of CBD help you get a more restful sleep during a flight and can speed up the post-flight recovery process. Because CBD has anti-inflammatory properties, it also works to combat any aches or foot swelling that come with a long-haul flight.” While the TSA recently changed its rules to allow bringing some CBD on planes (including Feals) for travel in the US, it’s always good to check on CBD’s legality in your destination country.
- Fake It ‘Til You Make It
And then there are those trips when you have to hit the ground running, like when you’re traveling for work or a wedding, and there’s no time for even a quick chair massage (it’s a sad thing.) For those times, there’s Glytone’s Rejuvenating Mini Peel Gel, which has a refreshing dose of glycolic acid to exfoliate that dull airplane skin, and comes in a conveniently travel-friendly 2 fl oz bottle. So even if you don’t feel like you’ve adapted to your new surroundings as soon as you hit the tarmac, at least you can look like it.
Lauren Bernstein is a writer, editor and brand expert with 13 years of experience covering fashion, beauty, travel, and lifestyle. The first 10 years of her career were spent working in the fashion and beauty departments of Harper's Bazaar, Glamour and Hamptons magazines. Her work has also appeared in Town & Country, Bloomberg Businessweek, Departures and other titles. In the past three years, Bernstein has shifted her focus to product-driven content serving as the Vice President, Editorial Content at Macy’s, and before that, as Senior Editor of Branded Content for HarpersBazaar.com and MarieClaire.com. Learn more about Lauren at laurenabernstein.com and on LinkedIn.