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Leavin' On A Jet Plane, Don't Know If You'll Ever Sleep Again?

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Don Wilson
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Port of Seattle
One way to help lessen jet lag: Rest before you travel and arrive at the airport with enough time that you don't have to rush.

Travel over long distances can wear you out. As anyone who’s flown a great distance can tell you, the sudden change in time zones can wreak havoc on your body. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley has been almost every continent on the planet, and has a lot of experience fighting off jet lag. Here's his advice:

Before The Trip

Exercise more. If you’re already pretty active, keep it up. If you’re kind of sedentary, maybe take a few more walks. You don’t need to get “in shape” before a flight, of course, but it helps to be more alert.

Get good sleep. Don’t stay up all night before the trip packing. Do that a day early. Arrive at the airport well rested and with relatively little stress.

Try to get an aisle seat. Once aboard, it’s wise to get up every 90 minutes or so, even if just to stretch your legs. Plus you won’t have to climb over sleeping strangers to take a bathroom break.

The Day Of

Bring healthy snacks. Some planes have healthy snacks aboard, but you usually have to pay. The free stuff – on flights that still do that – is usually loaded with carbs and sugar. Bring apple slices or broccoli. (Just remember to consume it before landing in foreign countries that might not allow produce to be brought in.)

Have a high-fiber diet. We don’t want to be coarse, but sleep isn’t the only thing that can get put off while you’re traveling. Take good care of your digestion.

Avoid alcohol on the plane. You want to be as alert as possible upon landing. If you have anxiety about flying, there are better ways to address it. Plus, alcohol dehydrates you. Which brings up another good point…

… Hydrate. You can’t take a full water bottle through security, but you can bring an empty one and fill it up along the way. Drink plenty of water throughout the travel experience, and once you land.

Once You Land

Get some food. A good meal will do wonders for you once you land.

Get outdoors. Daylight can help reset your body’s “clock.”

A note on medication: Upon arrival, it’s common for people go to bed with some headache medication or sleep aid. Whether you do should always depend on the best advice from a physician – and your own knowledge of what your body needs.

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Going Places is KPLU's weekly exploration of travel topics, with Matthew Brumley, co-founder of Earthbound Expeditions. His company provides small group travel to clients including KPLU. Suggest future topics or weigh in on this one, using the comment form below.

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.
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