Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on Livestrong.com.
Jetting off to an exotic location halfway around the world can be exciting. And even a quick jaunt across the country to visit friends provides a fun little break from your regular routine. But with a beautiful vacation comes the ugly truth: jet lag. It happens to all of us. That groggy, dizzy, don’t-know-where-I-am-or-what-day-it-is feeling. Jet lag is the bane of many a traveler’s existence. If you’re constantly crossing time zones (or if you only make the occasional airplane journey), you don’t have time to waste feeling like a zombie. Adopt these top tips and tricks to hack even the fiercest of time zone changes when traveling the world so you can have a restful and revitalizing vacation.
1. Avoid Alcohol
Sounds like no fun, right? When you have 12 hours to kill on an airplane, a lot of people’s favorite way to kill time is to throw back a few drinks. When you’re 30,000 feet high, the stale air on the plane already puts you in a dehydrated state. Unfortunately, alcohol not only adds extra calories (don’t you want to fit in that bikini?), but it also parches your body, putting you further into a dehydrated state. “Being dehydrated worsens the physical symptoms of jet lag…and alcohol…can disturb your sleep,” according to Harvard Medical School’s Family Health Guide. Another Harvard Health Publication in Healthbeat goes on to say that “alcohol promotes dehydration, which worsens the symptoms of jet lag.” Make sure to drink lots of water before, during and after your flight to keep you hydrated. Once you get to your destination, drink plenty of water, and only then indulge in that piña colada you’ve been craving.
2. Get on Local Time
It’s important to start treating your internal clock as if you were in your projected time zone at least three days before your trip. Set your watch to your new time zone. According to 2015 Harvard Health Publication, you should “gradually move mealtimes and bedtime closer to the schedule of your destination.” If you are moving forward in time, try heading to bed earlier and changing your eating habits to reflect that new time zone. If you are traveling west, try staying up a few extra hours to ease yourself into the new time zone.
3. Mobilize Your Joints
Sitting in a cramped airplane seat for hours on end wreaks havoc on your body. Backaches, tight hips and swollen feet are just a few of the terrible side effects of travel. To combat these dreaded side effects, it’s important to mobilize and stretch before, during and after your flight. Do some deep lunges for your hips, cobra pose for your back and lots of sun salutations to get your blood flowing. Also, try to bring a lacrosse ball or foam roller (if it fits) to activate blood flow in the body. Dig a lacrosse ball into your lower back and hips to break up any muscle tissue that has tightened over time. For other travel tips and tricks, check out the above video from Mobility WOD founder, world-renowned CrossFit coach and physical therapist Kelly Starrett.
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4. Give Fasting a Try
Check out our article on fasting here. Intermittent fasting has been proven to help set your body clock. On the day of your flight, try to have a healthy breakfast with plenty of good fats, fresh vegetables and lean protein — think eggs with spinach and avocado. Once you’re on the plane, limit your food intake as much as possible. Steer clear of sugars and carbohydrates that can spike your blood sugar and cause you to crash. According to the Argonne Anti-Jet-Lag Diet, a diet created by biologist Charles Ehret, fast days should “help deplete the liver’s store of carbohydrates and prepare the body’s clock for resetting.” A 2008 study from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center shows that “if animals have access to food only during their normal sleep cycle, they will shift more of their circadian rhythms to match the food availability.”
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