I’ve been in NYC for a total of 3 hours and I’m already blogging. Typical. At the moment, I’m in NYC to do consulting for a tech startup so I had to prepare myself mentally and physically to immediately start working as soon as I hit the ground. Pre-flight preparation was critical. So here are my flight hacks for optimal jet lag prevention!
1. Stay up the whole night, but don’t drink.
When engaging in an early morning flight that lasts beyond 10 hours, people will often try to party the night away in hopes of nursing their hangover and sleeping on the flight. Wrong. The hangover only hits you harder due to the altitude and if you’re still drunk, it’s nearly impossible to fully dive into a proper REM sleep cycle.
For that reason, avoid heavy drinking before any major international flight to increase your chances of sleeping away the time.
2. Wear ear buds, not over the ear headphones.
While noise canceling headphones are proof that there is a God, they easily impact your quality of sleep on a plane. Bulky headphones prevent you from resting the side of your head against the window and they also add unwanted pressure. Save them for dark allies to increase your potential of getting mugged.
3. Wait to take sleeping medication till AFTER take off.
As an avid traveler, I often take sleep-aids on planes to help pass the time. Unfortunately, there are some immediate side affects to prescription sleep-aids (such as Ambien) that are terrifying while flying.
For example, I once took an Ambien right before boarding my 12-hour flight to India… only to de-board a few minutes later due mechanical difficulties; and that’s when I started hallucinating. Oh good. To this day, I’m not really sure what happened to me after the medication kicked in because everything just felt like a dream. My vision started going in and out like a fisheye lens, the colors of the world swirled together, and I even asked someone if we were experiencing turbulence when the plane was still on the ground.
4. Wear sunglasses or a sleeping mask.
Darkness signals your brain to increase its production of melatonin, which is the hormone that lulls you into a gentle sleeping state. Often the light of the TV screen next to you will disrupt your sleep or the cabin will turn the lights on and off without warning. Be proactive and trick your body into a proper sleeping schedule.
5. Put yourself into a “food coma.”
I’m 100% Paleo, 80% of the time. That extra 20% is wiggle room for flights, birthdays, or breakups. Eat EVERYTHING they give to you; and then some. Due to my dietary restrictions, one of the side effects of eating wheat is immediate grogginess. Perfect. Goodnight moon.
6. Wear something comfortable.
Whenever I fly, I look damn near homeless (note the picture above). Sweats, CrossFit sweater, hair in a bun, done. A 22 hour flight is not a runway, it’s a near-death sentence so prepare yourself accordingly. But despite my frizzy unkept hair and baggy outfit, I’ve still been able to snag a few numbers; and so can you.
Essentially, the best way to avoid jet lag is to organize your sleeping patterns according to the schedule of the country your landing in. There’s no way around it. Sucks, man.