Although everyone loves a holiday, no one likes the dreaded jet lag accompanying long-haul flights. Whether you find yourself with fatigue, impaired concentration, insomnia or irritability, none of the symptoms help to get your trip off to a great start. Luckily though, there are some tried-and-true techniques you can use before, during and after your flight to reduce the effects of jet lag and give you more quality time at your destination. Read on for ten tips to help you fight jet lag when you next travel.
10 – Adjust Your Internal Clock
As you’re about to purchase your ticket to London, Paris, New York or any other long-haul destination, keep in mind the time zone of your destination. Before leaving, you can help your body adjust to the new zone by gradually shifting your internal clock. Several days before departure, go to sleep earlier than normal each night (if flying east) or stay up later (if travelling west).
09 – Leave Home Well-Rested
Doing your best to depart for you trip relaxed and well-rested is also helpful in combatting jet lag. Plan your schedule far in advance of your trip so you’re not snowed under with work right up until you leave and ensure you get plenty of sleep during the week before travelling. This will help your body to cope with less sleep during the flight or over the first few days after arriving at your destination.
08 – Cut Back on Caffeine
For the 12 hours before leaving home, plus also during the long flight, avoid caffeine. You may be tempted to have a caffeine fix to stay awake longer; however, it actually only results in you being more likely to wake up once you fall asleep. Also, caffeine dehydrates the body — so, curtailing coffee helps to reduce this problem.
07 – Stay Hydrated
One of the best ways to minimise the effects of jet lag is to stay hydrated. Even if you don’t think you’re thirsty, regularly drink water during the flight to ensure you get fluid into your system every hour.
06 – Limit Alcohol
As above, you want to avoid anything that dehydrates your system, which means steering clear of alcohol during the flight. The cabin air on a plane dehydrates passengers and altitude changes can also quicken the effects of alcohol, making one drink while airborne similar to two or three on the ground.
05 – Sleep During the Flight
When choosing times for your trip, choose overnight flights – you’ll be likelier to sleep while on board the aircraft that way. Travel is tiring, so anything you can do to give your body the rest it needs will help it to fight off jet lag when you arrive at your destination. Also, a natural alternative to help you sleep is lavender oil. A proven sleep enhancer, it can act as a mild sedative and relaxant.
04 – Get Active and Go Outside
After you arrive in your destination, spend time outdoors in natural sunlight. This helps your body clock to reset by regulating melatonin release. If you can take a vigorous walk or some other form of exercise, this will also help you stay awake during daylight hours.
03 – Stay Up
If you arrive during daylight hours, stay awake until it is dark and a normal bedtime in your destination. This will help you to adjust to the new time zone and transition more quickly to the local time.
02 – Regulate Temperature and Light
Changing body temperature and light levels in your surroundings can be an effective way to combat jet lag, according to scientists at Queen Mary College at the University of London. Studies show the human biological clock is driven by changes in body heat and light. As a result, if you arrive in a cold country, add extra clothing or drink warm beverages to induce sleepiness. Alternatively, if in a warm climate, enjoy a cold shower and choose light clothing to regulate your body temperature.
01 – Eat Protein
Protein-rich foods are the perfect item to choose from the breakfast menu on the morning after you arrive in your destination. Protein will give your body sustained energy to help it stay awake and alert during the day.
About the Author: Belinda Platt is a travel writer and blogger who spends many weeks each year in the air.