Before going abroad, the longest flight I had been on was from New York to California where there the time change was only 3 hours behind. Adjusting to the difference was pretty easy since it was only a few hours. After the first night of sleep I was ready for the day. In contrast, on my way to study abroad in Limerick, Ireland, we made a pit stop in London for two days with AIFS. The time difference there is five hours ahead of where I am from. By the time we got to go to bed on the first day in Europe, we had been up for 30 hours!
Here are four tips on how to survive jet lag:
1. Drink a lot of water.
Drinking a lot of water will keep you hydrated and alert throughout the day and will help with staying awake. Many people are not aware of this but, because airplanes have to keep the cabin pressurized, the air inside becomes very dry. Bringing a water bottle on board could be a life-saver.
2. Stay active.
When we arrived in London at 7 AM, we were given the whole day to explore. The hotel room wouldn’t be ready until 2 PM. We were told of some free attractions and parks that we could see. Around 8 AM, we found a small coffee shop and got coffee, tea and pastries to help us wake up. We walked through Kensington Gardens and saw Kensington Palace. The cool, crisp London air helped us stay alert. We walked across the park to two free museums, the Natural History Nuseum and the Science Museum. Each one had interactive activities to keep us engaged. When the hotel room was free, we went back to showered and got some lunch. Staying active like this helped us fight off the jet lag.
3. DON’T take a nap!
I found that staying awake was better than taking a nap because, at the end of the day, I could go to sleep at the right time and had an easier time waking up in the morning. Taking a nap can alter your sleep schedule. Since it was the middle of the day, I knew that if I went to sleep I wouldn’t wake up until 10 PM, and then I would have been awake all night. I pushed through and tried to eat meals at the appropriate time and finally was able to go to sleep at the end of the day.
4. Focus on the experience.
During the two days in London, we had to push through and take it all in. We went on a whole tour of the city and saw Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the London Eye and Tower Bridge. Even though I was tired and needed a shower, I stood in front of the Palace and got a picture. When we had to leave London to come to Limerick, I was sad to go because of how much fun we had. In the end, I am glad I stayed awake and pushed through to see the incredible staples of London.
This post was contributed by Laura Prioletti, who is spending her spring semester studying abroad with AIFS in Limerick, Ireland.