People often ask me how I handle jet lag, as I travel between time zones, countries, and even continents on a semi-regular basis. The truth is, I handle it fairly well most of the time, and occasionally it kicks my butt. I've tried any number of "Jedi mind tricks" over the years, and there are a few that seem to work pretty consistently:
1. Change to local time as soon as possible
If you're only going to be away for a short time, you might want to do the exact opposite and never change to local time, but generally speaking I change my watch, phone, and any other timed device I have to my destination time zone no later than arriving at the airport and occasionally up to 48 hours before leaving if I'm feeling cheeky.
2. Don't drink
I've found that the longer I can go without alcohol on a trip, the better I sleep. About 72 hours seems to do the trick, but if I have a glass of wine or beer on the plane or in the evening to "help me sleep," I invariably wake up in the middle of the night. Melatonin is my favorite "sleep aid" -- I take it at bedtime, and while it may be a bit of a placebo affect, I find it helps me adjust my sleep cycle more naturally.
3. Nap as needed
There are various arguments for and against naps when it comes to jet lag, but I'm a fan. You'll learn your own rhythms, but I find that up to 20 minutes is often enough to recharge and bring my brain and body back online -- it doesn't so much matter if you actually fall asleep as that you cut off from all stimuli and let yourself zone out. Occasionally I'll go for a full two hours, but there's a sort of horrible "nap hangover" that leaves your body awake while your brain is still comfortably numb that leaves me preferring the shorter "cat nap" approach.
4. The ultimate trick
I used to always wonder how stuntmen in movies managed to not get hurt given the incredible things they put their bodies through. Then I saw a documentary about Jackie Chan, the martial arts stuntman turned actor/comedian, and he was showing off his multiple broken bones and was even filmed passing out several times before a particularly daring stunt where he slid down a banner from several stories up for one of the Rush Hour movies. And that's when I realized that stuntmen do get hurt -- they just don't mind getting hurt (or at the very least don't see it as a legitimate reason for not doing their job).
Similarly, my ultimate trick for beating jet lag is that I don't mind being tired. I don't go to bed worrying about how I'm going to feel in the morning if I don't get to sleep, and I don't wake up at 2 a.m. cursing the heavens. I do my best, and know that even if I'm a bit more tired than I'd like, I can still show up and do what I do to a very high level.
What are your favorite strategies for beating jet lag? Please share them in the comments section below!
With all my love,
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