Jet Lag has to be amongst the biggest negatives of long-haul travel and not a great way to start any holiday! But fear not, experienced travellers have come up with some very useful tips that will help alleviate the symptoms, hopefully leaving you feeling much fresher and ready to make the most of your holiday.
Preparation is key
Your sleep pattern is a major factor in jet lag and adjusting your this in the days leading up to your trip will help immensely and help to avoid being awake at 3am and nodding off at 2 in the afternoon. So if you are heading west you should try going to bed a couple of hours later in the days before departure whilst those heading East should try and get to bed an hour or 2 earlier.
If you’ve not been able to do the sleep preparation, all is not lost and you should try the following whilst in flight.
For those flying during the daytime, it is best not to sleep at all, use the time to relax with a movie or catch up on some work and get up every now and again to walk the aisle.
For those flying overnight, getting some sleep is a must and it is worth upgrading to a more comfortable seat if possible, whilst business class offer the best chance with their flatbed seating, many airlines now offer a Premium seat with extra leg room, more comfortable and wider seating at rates far closer to economy prices than business, especially if you book early or get lucky with a seat sale.
If upgrading is not an option, the best place to sit to catch some sleep is by the window, rather than the aisle. Here you’re less likely to be disturbed if your neighbour gets up, and you can also rest a pillow against the window for extra padding.
If you can choose your seat it’s better to towards the front of the plane, as the rear can be bumpier, making for an uncomfortable flight, which is not great if you’re a light sleeper. Again, it’s worth avoiding sitting near the galley kitchen or toilets, as you’re more likely to be disrupted.
If you just simply cannot sleep on the plane, you should just try and have a rest instead. Take the pressure off yourself to sleep, and focus on resting, take a good book along with you and who knows, you may even nod off by accident.
Consider what you eat on the day of the flight – healthy eating is key with plenty of fruit and vegetables that will give you a slow release of energy, and you’ll feel much better upon arrival. Take your own healthy snacks on board, such as oat cakes, fresh fruit and nuts, try and adapt you’re eating times based on your destination’s local time.
Alcohol is an easy trap to fall in to having a glass of wine or beer on the plane to start off your holiday may seem like a good idea – but it will dehydrate you is likely to leave you feeling tired on arrival, adding to the feeling of jet lag. At altitude, alcohol is more potent and dehydrating than on land, so it really is best avoided. The air on the plane is very dry, and being dehydrated can have similar symptoms to jet lag, so make sure you keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water both on the plane and for the next day or two after landing.
If you are on a night service and are planning to sleep – it is best to avoid Caffeine in the run up to the flight, as it stays in the system for several hours. If you absolutely must have a coffee to survive the airport – just have a small one. Another tip is to take ear plugs, an eye mask, toothbrush and comfy tracksuit bottoms or pyjamas (change into these on the plane if you don’t want to walk through the airport looking like a scruff bag!) to emulate a normal bedtime routine and get you in the mood for sleeping.
Try a meditation app or CD – This is not for everyone but even if you’re a sceptic, give it a go and chances are that you will not hear the end of the recording as you will be asleep, or at the very least, deeply relaxed.
Arriving at your Destination
Don’t forget to disable any pre-set alarms on your phone or tablet… you don’t want to be woken up at 4am because your device hasn’t automatically updated to your new time zone!
The sun is on your side – if you arrive in the daytime try to expose your body to sunlight to help adjust your body clock. Avoid ‘blue light’ (i.e. iPad & phone screens) if it’s supposed to be bedtime. Don’t think about what time it is back home or work out how long you’ve been awake, this will not help you feel any better! Have a positive mind-set and bear in mind most people can function as normal after a night of disrupted sleep.
Don’t go straight to bed, stay up till a reasonable bedtime – if you arrived in the late afternoon and feel like falling asleep right there and then, don’t! Get some fresh air, have a good meal and try to stay up as long as possible, until what you feel is an acceptable bedtime.
If you arrived in the middle of the day, try to keep reasonably active and do some exercise that involves walking (don’t push yourself too hard), outdoors if possible. This will help to promote a good night’s sleep later that evening, and endorphins from exercise are a great way to fight tiredness!
Have you experienced jet lag? Do you have any top tips you think we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below.