Beating Jet Lag
Nothing worse than starting your trip shattered, be it wanting to sleep at 7pm or feeling zapped when you wake up. Minimise the problems of jet lag with a few simple tips.
What is jet lag?
You get jet lag when your sleep patterns have been disrupted and disorientated from travelling - the moment your body is expecting daylight or darkness has changed and it can take time to adjust. If you’re travelling west to east, it can be even tougher as you have a shorter day ahead of you as you’ve lost time. Longer days, when you gain time, are easier to deal with.
Starting your flight already tired is never a good idea. Be organised before you go so you’re not awake till the early hours planning and packing. Some people even adjust their home sleeping patterns a few days before, by going to bed and waking up earlier if they’re flying east, or making it later if they’re travelling west.
Sleep on night flights
It’s tempting to eat all the meals and watch all the films, but try and sleep on night flights, even if it’s just a few hours, as it gives you a better chance of staying up until the evening at the other end. Ear plugs and eye shades can help if you’re sensitive to noise and light. Be comfortable too, so wear loose-fitting trousers/leggings etc, take a fleece in case the cabin’s cold and a pair of flight socks.
Change to destination time on the flight
Don’t leave your watch or phone clock on your home time. The sooner you’re on board with the time at your destination, the better. Try to eat meals accordingly so you’re not out of sync.
When direct isn’t best
Sometimes, a stopover is a good way of getting used to the time difference as you have a few hours in between the home and destination time zone to adjust. Use the time to freshen up and get rid of the groggy feeling that comes with flying. And it might be cheaper too...
If you’re on any tablets or medicines which are taken to a strict timetable, it’s best to contact your doctor or nurse before travelling to find out when to take them. Some people take sleeping pills or melatonin to combat the effects of jet lag. Melatonin is a hormone which the body naturally creates at night or when it’s dark, but it really is better to let your body adjust to a new time zone naturally. Drink water
Bloody Marys, G&Ts and those mini wines are all very tempting. Ideally, you shouldn’t have any alcoholic drinks or even caffeine, but do drinks lots of water whatever you do. Airplane cabins are dehydrating, as are alcohol and caffeine, and dehydration can make jet lag worse. If you’re worried about constantly needing the toilet, book an aisle seat. Although you’ll be disturbed less with a window seat so if you have a good bladder, consider it a bonus.
Lastly, get as much daylight as you can at your destination, if the timings permit. Daylight combined with a walk and a stretch will re-energise you and prepare you for the next few days.