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7 ways to fight jet lag like a flight attendant


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Nobody wants to feel like a zombie on vacation. But no matter how much water they chug, even the most expert travelers can fall victim to jet lag.

From a scientific standpoint, the reason your sleep pattern can get all out of whack when you travel is actually pretty simple: Crossing multiple time zones means your circadian rhythm is out of sync with the local clock. This can happen whenever you’re moving through two or more time zones, so even a routine flight from LAX to JFK can throw your sleep cycle for a loop… and make waking up in time for breakfast a challenge.

Luckily, according to flight attendants, there are certain things you can do in-flight to help make jet lag less brutal.

Here are 7 flight attendant-approved tips to help you fight jet lag.

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time zones can affect jet lag
Photo: Unsplash/Crew

1. Prep yourself for the new time zone

“I try my best to ‘think’ in the arriving time zone,” says flight attendant Steve F. Try to tweak your sleep schedule a day or two in advance (even just by an hour), and set the clock on your phone to the time at your destination before takeoff. “It’s really just a mind trick,” he says, but he swears that it works.

2. Nap, nap, nap

“It’s crucial to make sure that I get at least eight hours of consecutive sleep no matter what,” says flight attendant Kelly B, who finds that “naps make up for the time differences” and help counterbalance the groggy feeling of bouncing between time zones.

3. Land during the day

“I personally like earlier flights that leave between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.,” Kelly says. “I find I still have plenty of energy afterwards to get out and about at my destination.”

4. Create your own sleep zone

“I must, must, must have an eye mask, a neck pillow, and noise-canceling headsets or earplugs,” says Kelly. “I also like to have a relaxation playlist to ease me into sleep.” Try a meditation app like Headspace or Buddhify to help you decompress.

5. Fuel your body the right way

Both flight attendants agree that a healthy diet is the best way to wake up refreshed: “Drink a lot of water, eat healthy green foods, and stay away from processed and high-sugar foods,” suggests Steve.

6. Grab an essential oil

Essential oils can help you get a full night’s rest on a long-haul flight. Steve suggests sniffing some lavender when the cabin lights go down.

7. Get sweaty

“Always packing workout clothes helps me with jet lag, as we can go to the gym in the hotel anytime,” says flight attendant Cathy Thompson. “Taking a nap for a couple of hours and then hitting the city running is a good practice.” Plus, it’s the easiest way to get your bearings and check out some of the sites in a new place. Two birds, one stone—done.

Get more help with jet lag before your next trip, or see how to travel like a supermodel—even if you don’t have a private plane. 

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