How to get over jet lag: 14 tips for beating timezone tiredness
Whether you’re heading off on a bargain break to Orlando or you’ve found a great deal on a cheap holiday to Dubai, jet lag can quickly turn your flight of fancy into a one-way ticket to exhaustion. Here’s how to beat it.
What causes jet lag?
Working out how to prevent jet lag becomes easier when we understand how our bodies work. Our bodies are naturally programmed to do a number of things throughout a 24-hour period, such as eating and sleeping. These built-in routines are known as circadian rhythms, and when we fly they’re thrown into disarray.
Moving through time zones can lead to extreme fatigue along with indigestion, bowel problems, loss of appetite, memory and concentration issues. Jet lag effects can vary depending on our age, state of health and stress levels.
14 tips for getting over jet lag
1. Relax your schedule
If you’re someone with a rigid schedule at home, try to relax that schedule during the days before your flight. Having a rigid routine of eating and sleeping will make it harder to adjust to new time zones. If you’re flexible about such arrangements, you’ll start your trip abroad with a major advantage.
2. Get a good night’s sleep before you fly
People often end up having slept for just a few hours before a long flight – whether it’s due to pre-holiday excitement or a deliberate attempt to tire yourself out so that you’ll sleep through the flight. Big mistake. Last minute changes to your routine will only make it harder to adjust to new time zones.
3. Avoid arriving at night
If possible, opt for a flight which arrives in daylight. This will make it easier to stay awake – you’ll be much more tempted to get out and explore if the sun’s shining and you’ve got a full day ahead of you.
4. Be plane savvy
You don’t have to be a plane-spotter to know that A350s and A380s are two of the best planes for beating jet lag. High-tech humidification systems help the air retain moisture. LED lighting systems capable of creating 16.7 million shades of colour simulate natural phases of the day, helping stave off jet lag. Another perk is an air purification system which renews the air every two minutes.
5. Split up the trip
Try and build in a stopover, so your body has more time to adapt to the new routine. This can also slash the price of your airfare.
6. Avoid the bar
Though it is tempting to kick off your holiday with a pre-flight gin and tonic, the effects of alcohol at altitude will increase tiredness and cause dehydration, making it even harder to beat jet lag.
7. Sleeping pills are a no no
Relying on sleeping pills for long-haul flights is a bad idea. They’re not worth it. They’ll do nothing to assist your recovery from jet lag and will just leave you feeling fuzzy when you land. If you’re in need of some shut-eye, do it the natural way. Use travel pillows, eye masks and ear plugs to help you get some rest.
Cabeau’s Travel Pillows are one of the most comfortable on the market. It shape-shifts easily to conform to your posture and the breathable fabric will keep you cool and comfortable. You’ll arrive at your destination feeling refreshed and ready to go.
8. Say goodbye to coffee
Avoid caffeine-heavy beverages such as coffee, cola and energy drinks. These artificial stimulants will affect your ability to sleep and increase jet lag recovery time. Your body functions best when it’s hydrated, so drinking lots of water is a great way to offset the effects of jet lag.
9. Set your watch
When you get on the plane, set your watch to the time of your destination to get yourself psychologically aligned. A warning: don’t get clever and do this beforehand, unless you want to end up with the world’s most ridiculous excuse for missing your flight.
10. Keep on movin’
Move around regularly and do exercises to keep the blood flowing. Wearing compression socks will minimise the risk of DVT and improve circulation (a slowing of which is one of the most common effects of jet lag).
Cabeau’s Anti-Microbial Bamboo Compression Socks gently squeeze your feet, ankles and legs to help blood flow back towards the heart. This reduces swelling, varicose veins and blood clots. You’ll not have to worry about your feet swelling like balloons after long flights.
11. Eat right
A more extreme tip is to start eating three meals a day in line with the new time zone, even if that means cornflakes at 11pm. If you’re the type of person who enjoys a suppertime snack anyway, it might not be such a burden.
12. Hunt for the sun
Get as much daylight as you can. Daylight makes you feel better. Unless you’ve been up all night. Which is never, ever a good idea before a long flight.
13. Get some exercise
Do some exercise to boost your endorphins and stretch out the kinks which develop on long haul flights. These days, almost all airline magazines will have a section dedicated to simple exercises for long haul flights.
14. Catch up on sleep
Try to get as much sleep as you normally would in a 24-hour period – make up any shortfall with a (short) snooze on the day of arrival if necessary.
This article is adapted from Sky Scanner