Beat jet lag: how I did it and how you can too

If you’ve been following along for a few months, I was in Indonesia this summer. More specifically, I was in Jakarta for an internship (that didn’t go so well). For those of you who are wondering why, I talk a bit about it here, here and here.

I got back to DC on August 6 after a long 50 or so hours of travel and a short 24 hours in San Diego for a friend’s wedding. To say my body had been through the ringer would be putting it gently. It is a story for another time (probably after I’ve gotten over it) but lets just say nothing was going my way. I went from Indonesia time, to Pacific Time, to Eastern Time. All in, Indonesia to DC was an 11 hour difference.

The good news though? I think I have mastered the art of getting over jet lag. I have a few tips and tricks that will help you no matter what time difference your body is going through. Do you have any suggestions? Let me know in the comments below and lets swap horror stories!

Get “normal” ASAP

Schedules are your friend here. You are going to be tired. You should accept that before you even begin your travel. You’ll get over your jet lag so much faster if you start carrying normal hours as soon as possible. When I get on a plane, I immediately switch my phone to my destination’s time. Then I act as I would if I was already there. 2AM? Pop a sleeping pill and try to sleep for at least 4 or 5 hours. 5PM? Eat and relax until 9 or 10PM then sleep. 6AM? Get a coffee and dig into the in-flight entertainment. The same is true after you land. Try and stay up until it would be a normal bedtime. You might be extra tired but naps will hurt you.

Keep yourself busy

When you land, if you absolutely need a nap, take a really short one. Then get out of the house! Go sightseeing, go grocery shopping, go see some friends! Do anything that will keep you from laying on the couch, watching Netflix and falling asleep. When I got back, I cleaned my apartment. Like more than I have ever cleaned my apartment before. I was scrubbing my carpet with stain remover and cleaning out kitchen cabinets. Put on a good show or podcast and get busy. The busier you are, the faster time will pass. Then before you know it, it’ll be bedtime!

Hydrate & Minimize Caffeine Intake

Traveling dehydrates you. Being dehydrated will make you lethargic. Being lethargic will make you want to take a nap. So drink all the water you can. Coming back to the US meant I was reunited with good flavored sparkling water. I went through an embarrassing amount of the stuff when I got back because it was just different enough from regular water that I didn’t get tired of it. It’s also important to limit your caffeine intake. You’ll want to drink a coffee when you’re struggling at 3PM, but make sure you’re not drinking too much. You don’t want the caffeine to through off your “normal” schedule and it will dehydrate you even more.

Pamper Yourself

No matter how long you’ve been traveling, you will probably feel really gross. When you land, hop in the shower and clean yourself up. Maybe draw a bath, and really soak in it. Pull out every face mask you own and do all of them. I didn’t want to shower when I got back because I knew if I was clean, I’d lay in bed…which was bad. So I threw my hair up, changed my clothes and pulled out a fun (& carbonated!) clay mask. I felt miles better and got right to cleaning my apartment. Before I left Indonesia, I tried to order some Lush Bath Bombs so I could really pamper myself, but naturally their site didn’t let me order anything.

I truly think that part of my lack of jet lag had to do with the fact that over the course of 72 hours, I got about 5-8 hours of sleep and my body had given up by the time I got home. Or I could have just been really excited to get home. Or maybe both. But hopefully these little tricks help you, even a little bit. Be nice to yourself and don’t overextend. You’ll bounce back before you know it!


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