We took our daughters halfway around the world—and had the wicked jet lag to prove it. It was definitely painful on our first day traipsing around Tokyo, but by day two, no one was dozing off in their sushi dinner, even after a full day of sightseeing.
Want to know how we made switching time zones easier? (It’s especially key if you have little kids who require multiple naps a day!) Pack a few of these essentials to help make switching time zones less painful for everyone.
1. Eye masks
Eye masks can help you get sleep when you need to get on a different time zone, stat. We pack one in the carry-on for everyone so they can sleep en route—and arrive ready to take on the day (even if night and day just switched on them).
Melatonin is a hormone that helps control your sleep cycles—and many people swear by using melatonin supplements to help them reset their internal clock. Take it 10 minutes before you’re ready to sleep.
3. Garbage bags or light-blocking curtains
The big issue with jet lag is that your body’s expecting sunlight when it’s dark—and vice versa. If you need to get into a new time zone’s groove superfast, it may be helpful to start shifting bedtime in advance—and darkening a room with black garbage bags or light-blocking curtains can help you achieve that.
4. Light panels
Exposure to sunlight is the best way to reset your body clock—which is why we always try to plan outdoor sightseeing for our first day in a new time zone. If you don’t have a way to get sunshine to you, light therapy panels, which mimic sunlight, can be the next best thing. This light therapy lamp is super small, so it could even fit in your carry-on.
Smelling a soothing or invigorating scent may or may not make a difference, but it never hurts to smell something lovely (especially if you’re seated near the airplane bathrooms, am I right?). I like to use aromatherapy scents that are meant to soothe (think lavender) or wake you (citrus, peppermint, or spruce)—spray a little lavender on your pillow or eye mask, or use those invigorating scents in the shower. You can try kits like Jet Lag Sniff Box, which lets you smell the scents you need, whether you’re looking to wake up or chill out.
Entrain, created by researchers at the University of Michigan, gives you personalized recommendations for when to sleep on your flight, based on your own activity and heart rate info, to help you get over the jet lag as quickly as possible. And it’s free!