The Best Tips Ever to Fight Jet Lag, From Wellness Experts
Just in time for travel season.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 7:56 AM
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If your holiday travel plans include some exotic locations or even just a cross-country trip, chances are, you’ll be dealing with the inevitable disorientation that comes with time difference. The dreaded jet lag can wreak complete havoc on your holiday, causing you to oversleep and miss your exciting plans—or worse, prevent you from sleeping after a long day of sightseeing.
But thankfully, there’s something you can do about it—in fact, there are multiple things—and who better to help than women who travel for their careers all the time? We tapped into some of our favorite wellness experts—from nutritionists and holistic health counselors to busy, wellness-focused women who work in the industry—to give us the scoop on all things jet lag. So grab a cozy drink, put on your PJs, and pack your bags… your next vacation is as easy as one, two, three.
Stock up on natural forms of melatonin.
Lauren Slayton, nutritionist and founder of NYC-based nutrition service Foodtrainers, insists on incorporating natural forms of melatonin (the hormone that induces sleepiness) on the plane, in order to get adjusted to your new time zone.
“We provide our Foodtrainers’ clients with a Food First Aid Kit that contains wakaya ginger and walnuts,” she says. “Ginger is a natural source of melatonin, plus it’s anti-inflammatory and good for your immune system when you travel. Mix 1/4 to 1/2 tablespoon of wakaya ginger in hot water both on the plane and when you land. Walnuts are another natural source of melatonin, so we have a ‘nutcase’ we fill with Old Dog Ranch walnuts for our clients.”
You need self-care.
A huge part of adjusting to a new time zone is managing to fall asleep on the plane, so our visuals director Meghan McNeer focuses on self-care while she’s traveling. “I start with essential oils like this altitude oil and thieves oil to boost my immunity,” she says. “I also carry this jet set kit to keep my skin hydrated. After the in-flight meal, I start the type of movie you’ve saved to watch on a small plane screen, and put on some hand masks and eye masks. I loathe the texture of airline blankets, so I bring a thick scarf that doubles as an in-flight blanket. And travel pillows are tough, but this one is one of the nicer ones I’ve seen out there—and it rolls up!”
Tanya Becker, co-founder and chief creative officer of Physique57, a strengthening barre-based workout, also has a few essentials she relies on. “I make sure to bring my lavender oil and a bottle of Dream Water to use if I’m having trouble falling asleep,” she says.
Adjust to your new time zone ASAP.
Instead of falling into the trap of staying on your destination’s time zone, it’s essential to start adjusting to your new one ASAP. “If you arrive in the am, sleep for three hours the moment you land,” says Gabby Bernstein, motivational speaker and life coach. “Then, get up and have dinner, and stay up until at least 9 pm.” That should set you up for a good night’s sleep, and get you on track for the next day.
However, if you simply can’t control your hunger pangs, fashion designer Norma Kamali suggests a small snack instead of a full-blown meal. “My trick is to snack when I would be having a meal at NYC time,” she says. “When we don’t sleep, we need to eat. So regulating what we can control is half the battle.”
Exercise, exercise, exercise.
Our own editor-in-chief, Jessica Romm Perez, encourages not falling asleep in the afternoon or evening once you land after your long-haul flight. “Do something active—but not too ambitious—when you arrive at your destination,” she says. “Explore a great shopping neighborhood, take a short hike—no matter what, fresh air is essential.”
And if you land in the morning, Gabby Etrog Cohen, SVP of PR and Brand Strategy at popular spin studio SoulCycle, suggests something a little sweatier. “Whenever I take an early am flight, I try to hop on a SoulCycle bike as soon as I land,” she says. “It helps sweat the recycled plane air out of me and resets my day, especially if I’m traveling across time zones.”
As much as you might crave it, avoid caffeine: It’ll just make you dehydrated and tired, insists Becker. Instead, focus on hydrating well to reduce feelings of fatigue.
“I always have lots of water in flight,” says Romm Perez. “For long haul flights, I always pack a little Ziploc of my favorite herbal tea—it’s such an upgrade from the standard-issue Lipton Yellow Label on board.”
Take digestion-boosting supplements.
“Traveling commonly disrupts digestion, so try a magnesium supplement (like our Detox Water Concentrate), or eat foods rich in this essential mineral—like almonds, avocado, leafy greens, and dark chocolate—to help keep everything in balance,” say Danielle DuBoise and Whitney Tingle, founders of Sakara, an organic, plant-based meal delivery service. “Also, popping a daily probiotic is key—not only does it encourage digestive health, but it also boosts immunity in order to protect you against travel-related germs.”
Another great supplement is melatonin, which is what holistic health counselor Natasha Uspensky recommends. “Take some melatonin 30 minutes before your new target bedtime to help your internal clock reset. You may need the melatonin for the first few nights in your new time zone, which is totally fine,” she says.
Get yourself to some nature.
Some fresh air and sunlight could do wonders for helping you adjust to your new time zone. “I am a huge fan of getting your feet right into the land or grass for as long as possible—even set up shop and do work from a park,” says Taryn Toomey, creator of celeb magnet workout The Class. “If there’s an ocean, get into it immediately: It helps to ground the electromagnetic system, and feels incredibly therapeutic to me.”
Don’t forget about nutrition.
What you eat is as important as how you rest, according to Keri Glassman, celebrity nutritionist and founder of Nutritious Life. “Start every day with a balanced breakfast that includes a high-fiber starch, and a lean protein or healthy fat to help rev your metabolism, stabilize your blood sugar, control your hunger, and boost your energy level—in other words, put you in the best position to fight your jet lag fatigue,” she says.
And of course, get yourself some greens: “I always have an energy-boosting meal with lots of veg when I arrive,” says Ella Mills, nutrition writer and entrepreneur behind the brand Deliciously Ella.
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