There’s nothing worse than arriving at your dream destination, succumbing to a nap, and then finding yourself up half the night – and subsequently ruining your sightseeing plans the next day. I lived in Hong Kong for the better part of a year and made regular trips between HK and San Francisco, allowing me to experiment with various remedies to combat Asia’s special brand of extreme jet lag. Unfortunately the dreaded affliction is real, but I’ve found that by following all of these simple tips I can completely avoid jet lag!
1. Prepare your Body in Advance
For me, this means taking melatonin for several weeks before my trip. This allows my body to adjust and I can determine the right dosage and timing for me (which happens to be 5mg about 45-60 minutes before bedtime). You may only need 3mg, so I advise you start with less and see how you do. I wouldn’t recommend taking it on the plane as some people report having especially vivid and memorable dreams!
2. Don’t Crash Before Bedtime, Local Time
This rule can be especially difficult if your plane lands super early, so I like to choose a flight that gets me in around noon or later. Why is the timing so important? Because you should not take a nap nor fall asleep before your usual bedtime expressed in local time (if you land at 7am, this will be tough!). Simply put: If I go to bed at 10pm back home, I will do the same that first night in Croatia. Even though you likely slept very little on the plane, do not – I repeat, do NOT – crash early.
3. Get Some Sunshine and Exercise
Get outside and bask in the sunlight – it’s proven that light exposure has an impact on our circadian rhythms. While you’re at it, take a long stroll or go on a hike, as exercise can also affect those circadian rhythms. Walking around Croatia’s scenic old towns is not only a wonderful way to see the city but those steps will quickly add up. I love to hike up above our small seaside town and take in the glorious views overlooking the bay. Bonus: photo opportunities await!
4. Eat Clean; Eat Well
When we’re sleep deprived, we tend to crave fatty comfort foods. Though grabbing some burek or cevaps seems like a good idea, I know I’ll sleep easier if my digestive system isn’t working overtime. While walking around the city, I find the nearest farmers market and stock up on fresh fruits, veggies, herbs, domestic olive oil, and fish. Eating a salad that showcases a rainbow of the local produce along with some lean protein is always satisfying and keeps me feeling light – which is helpful when all I want to do is crash. And while a celebratory glass of wine may be tempting, it doesn’t promote restful sleep. Enjoy some sparkling water instead (there’s so many varieties in Europe!).
5. Swim in the Adriatic
Many Croatians will exuberantly extoll the healing properties of our beloved Jadran, and I’ve personally witnessed my neighbors jumping into the sea for a morning swim in March. Yes, March! Though that’s a bit too chilly for most, I do enjoy a refreshing swim as early in the season as May. There’s something about that rejuvenating combination of some of the world’s clearest water and mineral-rich sea salt that cures all that ails (they call it Vitamin Sea for a reason, right?). And you don’t need a strenuous swim – just float on your back for a bit and come out unbelievably invigorated.
That’s it, friends. After you’ve lived it up on that first day – sunshine, sea, clean local food, and a long walk – you’re ready for bed. I take my melatonin at 9pm, fall asleep by 10pm, and I blissfully sleep until 7 or 8am local time the next morning. What jet lag? Now, you’re really ready to holiday like you mean it.