Long haul flights wreak havoc on your body clock, but here’s how you can overcome Jet Lag and get on with your globe-trotting…
Seasoned travellers say every hour of time difference takes a day to fully recover from. So you could be looking at a week of feeling tired, nauseous and confused before you bounce back to your usual self, depending on how far flung your holiday is. Travelling east is harder on your body and worse for your sleep than flying west, but Jet Lag is inevitable in either direction. With any luck, the following tips will get you through it as soon as possible. After all, exotic holidays are fun and exciting!
Leave Home Well-Rested
Get your battle against Jet Lag off to a cracking start by finishing work and packing your suitcases a few days before you fly out. That way, you won’t leave stressed, but relaxed and well-rested instead after some good nights’ sleep.
Change Your Bedtime
In the nights leading up to your trip, go to bed an hour earlier if you’re flying east or an hour later before you fly west, to make it easier to adapt to the bedtime routine you’ll have on holiday.
To Nap or Not to Nap on the Plane?
That is the question. If you’re landing at night, bring a neck pillow, ear plugs, eye masks or even sunglasses to fall asleep on the plane – anything that’ll help you drift off. Exposure to light during your flight can delay your body clock, which isn’t great for jet lag.
But if you’re walking off the plane into glorious sunshine, you need to stay awake on the journey - so sunglasses off. Get up and walk around the cabin if you can, in-flight exercises will keep the blood flowing. Staying active until you’re supposed to sleep will help you adjust quicker. It will be tempting to nap when you land, but a walk outside will keep you alert, reset your body clock and help you beat jet lag.
We put a handy infographic together full of top tips on how to sleep comfortably when travelling.
Avoid Aeroplane Food
In-flight meals have a bad rep for being bland and terrible anyway, but airlines serve them in line with your normal body clock, not on your destination’s schedule. Fasting on your journey can help you beat jet lag quicker, but not everyone can do it – so ask for a light vegetarian meal at check-in if you’re peckish, because you feel more bloated at high altitude which can ruin valuable sleep.
Reset Your Watch the Minute You Land
It’s a psychological trick to get your head in the game, working you’re your destination’s time not against your home clock.
Dehydration compounds jet lag and makes you feel even worse, so keep sipping water constantly to combat tiredness.
Eat Right First Night
You’re on holiday, of course you want to go off the rails the minute you get there. But if you want to conquer jet lag, avoid alcohol the first couple of nights after your arrival. These stimulants can scupper sleep which is difficult already thanks to jet lag. When it comes to food, avoid the spicy stuff and opt for smaller plates a few hours before bedtime to give yourself the best chance of sleep.
Prepare Your Hotel Room
Crack open a window, keep the lights as dim as possible and turn the clock away from you – watching the time will only stress you out and stop you from sleeping. As at home, put your phones down before you climb into bed, and read or listen to calming music for twenty minutes if you’re struggling to drift off.
Sunlight is a fun little jet lag cure that’ll help you adjust to your new routine as quick as possible, so head outside. Swap your bus sightseeing tour for one on foot, and catch some sleep-enhancing rays.
Stick to your home timezone if you’re only away for two or three days, and avoid wreaking unnecessary havoc with your sleep schedule.