Tips to Recover from Jet Lag—Fast!

Aly Walansky

Photo: Getty Images

Jet lag can make even the most exotic of vacations leave you feeling like garbage for days to come. When you have jet lag, your sleep-wake patterns are disturbed, and your body has experienced physical stress from the changes in air pressure during travel. If you have suffered from jet lag, you may feel drowsy, tired, irritable, lethargic and slightly disoriented. It’s no fun. Try to alleviate the symptoms—and the occurrence—with these tips.

Flying can be extremely dehydrating to the skin due to dry conditions aboard the aircraft. “Humidity is as low as 20 percent and air is recirculated throughout the cabin. This means that air is forced to draw moisture from wherever it can, including the skin. If you have dry skin, it will dry out even more, and if you have oily skin, your chances of experiencing a breakout greatly increase, because your skin produces extra oil to compensate for the sudden dryness,” says dermatologist Dr. Joel Schlessinger, who recommends plenty of water and extra moisturizer in your skin care routine for a least a week before you leave.

Stay Awake
Try to stay awake when you arrive in a new time zone. If you’re feeling drowsy after a long flight, resist the urge to nap. “By going to sleep in your new time zone’s normal bedtime hours, you’ll adjust quicker and better fend off jet lag,” says Allison McGuire, director of marketing at WanderWe, a new site dedicated to the two to four-day getaway.

Keep Moving
Flying can be a very sedentary activity, but it doesn’t have to be. Take a walk up or down the aisles from time to time and stretch in the back.

Adjust Your Watch
Prior to take off, adjust your watch to your new time zone. “By changing the time on your watch, you are already adjusting to your new time zone,” says McGuire.

Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
Alcohol will dehydrate your body even more, and although caffeine itself isn’t proven to cause dehydration, it is a diuretic, which can have a dehydrating effect. Resist the temptation to read a book or watch a movie. Instead, try your best to get some sleep during the flight. “Skin restores and repairs itself while we sleep, and robbing it of the chance to do so could be another stressor on your complexion,” says Dr. Schlessinger.

No Salt
Avoid salty foods. Everyone likes to snack when flying, but high salt content causes dehydration. Choose an apple or banana instead, suggests McGuire.

When arriving at your destination (hotel, home or other), cleanse your skin and use a mild facial scrub to remove surface dry skin cells caused from flying. “Be sure to avoid facial scrubs containing natural grains such as apricot kernels, walnut husks and almonds, as the sharp edges can scratch and irritate the skin. Instead, use scrubs containing polyethylene, jojoba beads or micro-beadlets, like the Renée Rouleau Mint Buffing Beads ($41.50,,” says Celebrity Esthetician Renee Rouleau.

Hydrate More
“After exfoliating with a facial scrub, it’s important to add back essential hydration and brighten the skin from post-flight dullness,” says Rouleau.

Re-Set Your Sleeping Pattern
To do so, stand facing the sun (make sure your eyes are protected and you are sunburn protected) for 10-15 minutes so that you get a healthy dose of sunlight. “This simply resets your night time melatonin and makes sure it’s not activated to make you sleepy during the day,” says Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of The Complete Natural Guide to Women’s Health.

Also, try drinking magnesium citrate powder mixed with hot or cold water. This is an anti-stress mineral and sleep aid that will help you relax and recover and get a good night’s sleep to further help you re-set your sleep-wake pattern. You can take small travel-size sealed packets and pour one into your water bottle and sip throughout the flight.

Compression socks and/or pants will also help with improved blood circulation in your legs and feet. Use them during the day, or sleep in them for one or two nights, Dr. Dean suggests.

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