Jetlag (noun). Synonym: hell.
Crew Life: Jetlag, how to get over it.
Jetlag, every travelers enemy. Traveling to an exotic destination can be so much fun except for crossing many different time zones. Let’s face it: jetlag can be really annoying. Suffering from that nerves-wracking feeling of fatigue, hangriness (hungry + angry), listlessness during the day, unable to get some stuff done, but yet not tired enough to sleep and counting sheep at night, is not fun at all!
To be honest, only few people have been spared. It is a natural reaction of your body caused by crossing too many time zones within a very short amount of time. Even frequent traveler and flight attendants suffer from it, myself included! Nevertheless, over the past years I have learned how to live with jetlag.
Here is what works best for me:
Knowing your body.
Every person is different and deals with jetlag in a different way. It is a common way of thinking flights to the west are easier than flights to the east, as it is easier for your body to extend a day. But for me it is the opposite, I don’t have problems with +8 hours in Tokyo, but suffer a lot when going to California, which is -9 hours. Knowing how your body reacts helps you when planning your flights.
I always try to drink as much water as possible when flying. We all know airplane air is super dry. On a long-haul flight I drink at least 3 liters of water, usually more. It keeps me hydrated and also keeps my metabolism active. Alcohol is an absolute no-go for cabin crew members on duty, and even when I fly as a passenger I try to avoid alcohol (except for a tiny glass of champagne 😉 ), as it dries out my body and has a different impact on the body in the air.
Eat light meals.
I always try to eat food that is digested easily. Therefore I go for light meals during a flight and usually bring my own food. Fellow colleagues usually smile when they see my huge lunch box, but they get a bit jealous when they see my delicious salads with avocado, green smoothies, chia-pudding, fruits, crackers or sushi. 🙂
Adjust the clock.
The hardest thing is probably adapting immediately to another time zone. As soon as I get off the plane I put my phone and watch to local time. Maybe a short nap (not more than 2 or 3 hours!) when we land early in the morning and then I’m off exploring. When we land in the afternoon I bite through and try to stay awake until it is bed-time.
Plan your sleep.
I know it might sound a bit too restrictive to actually schedule your sleep, but this is what works best for me. If I am at a destination for a short amount of time, I do want to make most out of it and that is usually during daytime. Whenever I don’t set my alarm and sleep for as long as I want to after arriving, my sleep is totally messed up and I can’t sleep at night and the next days as well.
Working out helps me to recover faster from jetlag. Whenever I work out in between flights, it is for sure not the hardest or the longest workout of my entire life. But moderate exercise like Pilates helps me to clear my mind and get my circulation going.
Last but not least.
Accept it. We are all human beings and no robots. You know best how your body works, so give him time to recover. For me personally the second day after a flight is the worst, jetlag-wise. Therefore I try not to schedule anything important on that day. Same thing applies for early mornings after coming home from America or late nights when coming home from Asia. But as I said, there is no need to suffer too much. When you are dead-tired, take a short nap, when you count the sheep for hours, get up. 🙂
How do you fight jetlag, what is your ultimate tip? I would be more than happy if you’d share it with me!
Curious how it is to work in the skies? There is a series of Crew Life posts on my blog.