How to Fight Jet Lag without Sleeping Pills

Try these all-natural cures for your travel woes.

airplane view

Frequent flyers know the signs all too well: the fatigue, the difficulty focusing and the loss of appetite that often come with long-distance travel. All of the above are symptoms of jet lag that, according to the American Sleep Association, will affect 93 percent of travelers at some point.

While there is no catch-all cure for jet lag, there a few precautions travelers can take to minimize the affects. But before you go reaching for the Ambien bottle, try the all-natural remedies below.

1. Prepare Pre-Flight

In the days leading up to your trip, make sure to eat a balanced diet and maintain regular exercise. And don't leave all the packing until the last night -- it's important to get a good night's rest on the eve of your flight. 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends adjusting your bedtime schedule a few days prior to the flight in order to prepare for the time change. Those traveling west should go to bed an hour or two later than usual, while anyone flying east should slip into bed an hour or two earlier.

2. Drink Water

Flying can dehydrate the body, according to the Cleveland Clinic, so it's important to drink plenty of fluids while traveling. As tempting as a latte at the airport or a nightcap after the flight might be, it's best to avoid caffeine and alcohol. They will only accelerate the dehydration process and make you feel worse in the long run. 

Instead, Today recommends drinking a lot of water, about one cup per hour while flying. Seltzer, unsweetened iced tea and coconut water are other good hydration options. 

3. Seek Sunlight

Sunlight can help reduce jet lag, according to Medical News Today. After leaving the airport, travelers should try to spend a half hour or so in the sun to help wake up their bodies and adjust to the new time zone. Consider going for a walk by the hotel or exploring the neighborhood. 

4. Avoid Naps

Long flights can be draining, but travelers should avoid crawling into bed as soon as they arrive back at the hotel. Napping during the day could prevent you from sleeping later in the night, causing even worse jet lag the next day. If you find yourself unable to stay awake, the CDC suggests taking short naps, no more than 20-30 minutes. Set an alarm to make sure you don't sleep too long. 

5. Eat Well and on Time

Another important consideration when adjusting to a new time zone is to make sure your diet is in sync with the when locals are eating. Try to avoid snacking late at night and instead stick to eating balanced meals at scheduled times. Not only will this help your body adjust, but it will also give you more energy throughout the day

Jet lag is one of the few downsides to traveling, but it doesn't have to ruin your trip. A little pre-flight preparation, lots of water and some sunlight can make a world of a difference.