As someone who has to fly often and long I have always wondered how other fellow road worriers cope with jet lag. Over the years I have collected what I thought was good advise from several people. Whether you are flying once a year for a vacation or once a week I wanted to share with you what I always call the jet lag secret. As a matter of fact I barely experience jet lag since I take several precautions when traveling through different time zones. A recent 11 hour flight has proven to me that it works quite nicely. To clear up any confusions I want to say that it is probably not really possible to feel nothing at all but how I do things brings me quite close to it.
Here are my assumptions on what humans can do in general:
The mind is stronger than the body. If you can control your thoughts then you can control your body.
Jet lag is 90% mind games – its really just your body not getting with the program.
You are in charge of yourself.
You are sitting relatively comfortable in your seat (remember John Wayne: no whining).
You don’t hate flying in general.
You don’t budget the flight time to work.
So here are some recommendations:
When you book your ticket makes sure you reserve a seat. This might sound silly but it will usually prevent you from being assigned a less than desirable seat. I usually try to get a seat where I only have one neighbor and I can sit at the window to use the airplane wall to rest my head. The way you sit will, however, starkly influence your experience. When I try to sleep in coach I position my body to sit in the center of the seat and adjust the headrest so my head can neither fall left or right once I doze off. That way you avoid neck pain. The small pillow they provide you with I usually use as lumbar support. If you are stuck between people I have used the seat belt to also cover my arms and keep me from bumping into someone and vice versa. It will look a bit like a prisoner transport but hey, you are there to sleep not be on the cover of Vogue.
But I am getting ahead of myself.
As soon as you sit in the plane set your clock to the time of the destination. Do this preferably before push-back so you can spend the time taxing to the runway staring at the new time and internalize it. Like a meditation I am projecting myself to the place I am going. This means that you tell yourself over and over what the new time is. This might creep the person next to you out but it will help you focus on what comes next. Once you have “understood” the new time act accordingly. If it is in the afternoon then the meal they are about to serve will be you dinner. Tell yourself that it is dinner and that you are going to sleep afterwards. A glass of wine might do the trick to get you in the right sleeping mood. (Drink responsibly – alcohol up there is much worse than on the ground). Plus, don’t forget to drink as much water as possible. Only really sleep on eastbound travels. If you are flying against the sun (e.g. Europe to Asia or US to Europe) try to get as much sleep on the plane as possible. For that buy a very comfy sleeping mask and good earplugs. Trying to fall asleep at least for a short time is very important for your body as it will make it easier to fight through the next day. Even if you only fall asleep for a very short time this will help you tremendously. The more you sleep on eastbound flights the better you will be able to perform in the next 2 days. If you are up for it you should get a business class or first class ticket (I know, duh). On westbound travels you should try to rest throughout the whole flight. If you are not sleepy keep yourself entertained with movies, magazines, books, and whatever you can get your hands on. Going back in the galley to start a conversation with someone might also help to kill time. This has been more than interesting for me as the people you meet have great stories to tell. Flight attendants are also up for a nice talk as usually their job is rather uncommunicative and there are long periods of inactivity between meals and take off and landing.
When you touch down stay up as late as you usually would. The last couple of hours are usually quite intense but very necessary to help you adjust as quickly as possible as soon as you arrive at your final destination start eating the next meal (e.g. if you arrive around morning hours: eat breakfast). This is one of the most important points. To convince your body of the new time (you have looked at the watch a couple of more times) you have to give it something to work with. In this case it’s food and lots of water. I cannot stress the water part enough. The controlled air onboard is very dry and will drain your body thus putting more strain on it. Even if you don’t feel like eating at all bypass that feeling and chow down some food.
This might sound weird but as soon as you arrive at home or the hotel take a shower. This will not only make you feel better but will signal your body that its clean and ready now (this might be for going to bed or starting the day). In the coming days try to have the same routine as always. This means: regular meals, sleeping times as always, and lots of water. Also, try to look at any watch as often as possible.
When you are waking up early use the time for some exercise. I have had some great 5am runs (which I usually don’t do) thanks to the time change. In general if you are kind to your body in the days leading up and after your flight you will feel the difference to travels where you just forced it.
I hope these small recommendations will help you on your next journey. Comment below if you have some additions or feedback.
ABOUT TOBIAS JAEGER
Tobias Jaeger started his career while still a student at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. He founded Business Associates Europe, a company that delivered consulting services to different corporations by partnering up consultants with university students. After graduating from Maastricht University, Jaeger took interest in the e-gaming industry. Jaeger helped found StrategosPoker, which helps inexperienced poker players learn how to play at a professional level and potentially earn some money.
Tobias Jaeger became the Managing Director of Entrepreneur Academy, which has given aspiring entrepreneurs courses to take throughout Europe. Jaeger created a documentary about the future of the food industry. The documentary was seen by many investors around the World. Soon after, Jaeger helped launch AXIOM Pictures, the first European entertainment equity fund. Thanks to the support of his peers, AXIOM helps combine finance and entertainment.