By Shaun T

As a performer and fitness presenter, I regularly travel through several time zones across the globe on my way to Europe or, well, you name the place, it's probably on my schedule. These long trips often have one negative result that everyone knows as "jet lag," and one of the most common symptoms I experience is a disruption in my normal sleep-wake cycle. Occasionally I find myself suffering from jet leg once I arrive at my destination, which can be really inconvenient because I need to be in peak performance mode. No one wants to bring in a choreographer from Hollywood just to have them napping offstage. I need to get off the plane and be ready to be dynamic as a dancer or fitness personality.

You don't have to be a performer to use these tips—so many of us travel for business or for family events and want to be at our best while away from home (and of course upon our return!).

If you've ever traveled for an extended period of time, you're familiar with the symptoms I'm talking about: sleepy during the day, wide awake at night, difficulty focusing, lack of memory, irritable, dizzy, headachy, sore muscles, and (often most uncomfortably) digestive upsets.

I've read various articles on this subject, and here are some tips that I've tried and personally find useful to combat jet lag:

  1. A few days before my trip, I try to reset my internal clock. For example, if I’m traveling to the East Coast from the West Coast, I aim to go to bed 1 hour earlier each night, and I get up an hour earlier than normal. This 1-hour difference in my internal clock really does minimize the jolt to my sleep patterns, so I try to put this tip into action any time I don't have a last-minute schedule and have a few days to prepare.
  2. I try to schedule daytime flights whenever possible in an attempt to avoid sleep loss and fatigue. I can then get settled at my destination, have a sensible dinner, and go to sleep pretty easily. Not to say that I can't be seen eating at a JFK Airport kiosk at midnight during a layover to Berlin, but I try to avoid that situation. And it goes without saying that you should avoid traveling when you’re already sleep deprived.
  3. While on the plane, I wear comfortable clothes that allow me to be relaxed and not feel confined. The same goes for footwear as well. I often bring along a set of warm slipper socks with me so I can kick off my sneakers and chill.
  4. During the flight, I keep hydrated by sticking to at least one bottle of water and avoiding alcohol, sugary drinks, and caffeinated beverages.
  5. You may consider a mild sleep aid like melatonin or a "bedtime" tea (Yogi Tea has a good one) should you still suffer from sleep deprivation on day 2 or 3. This can finally get you back on track so you can snooze your way back on schedule. Most importantly, be patient with yourself and your body, as it may take you a day or two to acclimate.

Hope you find these helpful—I always find that sleep, like nutrition and exercise, is extra-important when you're on the go.

Peace out,

Shaun T