I'm taking a red-eye flight home from my brother's wedding this weekend and I'm not looking forward to my slow transformation into a zombie. You know what I'm talking about: that irregular napping and neck lolling that turns you into a cranky, achy, sleep-deprived monster.
And it doesn't help that I'll be crossing two time zones from Mountain to Eastern standard time, which is two hours ahead. That kind of double-whammy of jet lag doesn't just cause fatigue -- it can lead to other health woes like irritability, confusion, nausea, coordination problems, anxiety, and dehydration. Yeah, good times.
Deep breath! Time to get out my jet lag recovery kit ...
There are a few things you can do during your flight to ease the pain and help you get your needed rest -- like buckle your belt over your blanket so the flight attendant doesn't wake you, bring a neck pillow, pop in earplugs, wear an eye mask, lean against your fellow passenger and hope he or she doesn't move, fly first class (bwa ha ha!).
But in reality, the red-eye is a rare case of damage control trumping preparation. Ain't much you can do to make that flight less miserable -- so what matters more is how you recover. Here are a few little tricks to try:
- Give yourself a post-travel day off even if it cuts your trip short. If I can't avoid that red-eye flight, I'll always try and plan a day to rest at home after I return. Showing up at work immediately is so very harsh.
- Accept that you've lost a full night's sleep. When it comes to sleeping, there are no naptime do-overs. Your body is toiling away at far more than just resting while you're in a deep sleep, and there's no way to fake that work by way of sleeping pills or catnaps the next day.
- Take a short nap. It's still a good idea to snooze for an hour or so (not much longer!) the day after, when you're settled in at your hotel or back at home.
- Return to your normal routine. This one is up there with "to lose weight, you must eat less and exercise." The boring, tiresome answer to recovering from jet lag is to try and slip into your routine as soon as possible. Stay as active as you can.
- Drink plenty of water. What does hydration have to do with jet lag? I don't know! But it's what everyone recommends.
- Try taking those hippie supplements. I know they don't work the same way on everyone -- and it's always best to seek advice from your doctor before taking any unfamiliar drug or herbal elixir -- but Rescue Remedy really helps chase away my inner witch on jet-lagged days. Taking some melatonin before bedtime also helps me sleep when it still feels like early evening.
How do you deal with jet lag?
Image via Snowman learned/Flickr