My family and I are in Tokyo right now. It’s our first stop on a month-long international trip.
Since our vacation includes three extremely long flights (San Francisco – Japan, Japan – Paris, and Paris – San Francisco) in a relatively short amount of time (a month), I was a little concerned about how we would deal with jet lag. Would it stop us in our tracks? Take us down? Spoil huge chunks of our vacation?
The answer, at least for the first flight and time shift, was that it didn’t affect us at all. In other words, we’ve been on Tokyo time since our first morning, and we haven’t looked back. Every so often, one of us will wonder out loud about what time it is in California, and the rest of us usually shrug our shoulders because the math seems too complicated. We definitely don’t feel it in our bodies.
I’m not exactly sure how we managed to sidestep jet lag so completely. We did a few things, so maybe the combination was what did the trick. Here’s what worked for us:
1. Jet lag boot camp.
For the five days leading up to our flight, we pushed back our bedtimes later and later. The night before our flight, Josh and I went to sleep at 3 am and my kids stayed up until 1:30 am. Sleeping in was a little bit of an issue because of work commitments and also because my kids just couldn’t do it very well, so we were a little tired for 3-4 days, but it wasn’t extreme.
2. Sleeping on the flight.
We were lucky to be in lie-flat business class for the almost 12-hour flight. Josh and I slept for about six hours, my son probably slept for four hours, but unfortunately my daughter did not sleep at all (she’s got serious sleep issues, so we weren’t surprised, and she is a trooper, so she just pushed through).
As soon as we possibly could, we got our bare feet on the grass. In our case, this involved checking in to our hotel, then walking across the street to a park and searching for grass in the dark. It was nighttime, it was sprinkling, and it was actually a challenge to find some, but we did it.
4. Embracing local time.
We stayed up as late as we could on our first night in Japan. Again, my kids were troopers and made it until 8:30 or so. Josh crashed at 9. I stayed up until 10:30 because I was finishing a blog post.
We agreed that if we woke up at an unholy hour, we would make the best of it and go to the Tsukiji Fish market, which is at it’s best at 4 am. However, we didn’t get a chance to do this, because we all woke up at 5 am.
We got up and out of the hotel, and walked for at least six miles over the course of the day. We fell asleep at varying times between 8 pm and 10 pm. The next couple of days were similar, but with slightly later times on both ends. This morning we all woke up at 7 am.
And that, I think, was that. We beat jet lag!
We’re going to be following these same steps for our next two long-haul flights, and I will report back then. Maybe we’ve discovered the secret sauce? It definitely worked for us.
Have you found a solution to beat jet lag? What works for you?