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Ready for Travelling Again? Strategies for Coping with Jet Lag

With the border regulations easing, many people are itching to start travelling again, perhaps crossing several time zones.

Travelling across time zones sounds great, but for most of us this also means spending days dealing with jet lag, and not enjoying the vacation as much as we could. This inconvenience unfortunately cuts into our vacation. What can you do to preserve your precious vacation time?

When I travelled regularly from Vancouver to Montreal or Toronto in the past for work, I learned that the best strategy is to immediately place yourself in the destination time-zone the moment you leave your home.

Now let’s travel for pleasure (since I no longer need to travel for work). Let’s say we are leaving Vancouver on a 2 PM flight to Paris, France. 2PM in Vancouver would be 11PM in Paris. Based on the strategy, you should make sure that you sleep on the flight to match the destination time.

Once you are on the flight, change your watch to Paris time and fall asleep as soon as you are settled. Forget the inflight food services because they don’t taste all that great anyways, and normally you wouldn’t eat at 11PM, would you?

Try to sleep for at least 7 hours on the plane. When you wake up it will be 6AM Paris time. Not a bad wake up time on a normal day. And don’t even think about what time it is in Vancouver. You don’t need to remind your brain that your time is off!

Here is the important part: a few tricks to help you adjust:

  • Starting 3 days before the trip: wake up earlier and going to bed earlier, by 1-2 hours.

  • The day of the trip: Get up even earlier. Maybe 4 AM? I know, it sounds awful. But you will appreciate your own efforts later. Do not drink coffee or tea! Caffeine stays in your body for a long time, and it will prevent you from feeling sleepy at 2PM. Exercise can be very helpful on the day of the trip. So go to the gym in the morning, and double down with a Zumba class to get yourself physically tired.

  • Have an early lunch, perhaps around 10AM. Remember you are trying to go to sleep at 2PM. Going to sleep with a full stomach is not the best way to get a good sleep! Go for a walk after “lunch” so you can work off some of the food energy. Also wear blue light blocking glasses after lunch to try to fool your body into believing it’s getting late and start producing melatonin.

Of course, as a pharmacist, I also have some suggestions to help you as you get close to your flight time:

Supplements to take 1 hour prior to boarding the flight: