A degree of jet lag is inevitable when travelling across different time zones, the more you cross, the more severe symptoms are likely to be. Long-haul travel can affect your digestive system, body temperature, blood pressure, urine production and bowel habits, not to mention your sleeping and waking patterns. Unpleasant effects of jet lag can include insomnia, fatigue, upset stomachs and confusion, and can result in the first few days of your trip feeling a little chaotic.
However, there are a few things you can do to minimise the effects, and the impact on your trip:
10. Essential oils
These can be a great way of adjusting without medication. There are different ways of using them, such as a few drops on your pillow, in a diffuser (may not be convenient for travel), in a warm bath, mixed in a carrier oil and used on the skin, or a couple of drops on a tissue to be used for inhalation. For insomnia, use lavender, neroli, roman chamomile, patchouli or sandalwood. For fatigue, try basil, peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus or geranium.
9. A Good Breakfast
The morning after you arrive, have a breakfast which is rich in protein. This can help you stay alert. It might also settle your stomach more than starchy carbohydrates.
When you arrive, try and get out for some fresh air and (hopefully!) some sunshine. Sunlight can help your brain to adapt to your new time zone. Staying active will help you resist the temptation to sleep, so if possible, go out for a long walk.
7. Freshen Up
When you are almost at your destination, freshen up with some baby wipes and moisturiser, brush your teeth, and (if so inclined) apply some lip balm. You will feel revived and less lethargic.
6. Timezone Eating
Airplane food may be served at mealtimes consistent with where you left, not where you’re headed. Take some snacks, and try to stick to mealtimes at your destination. Alternatively, don’t eat a meal on the plane at all. Paul has been a flight attendant for over eight years. He says “Fasting during a flight can help, so you only eat at a normal time after landing. This resets your body clock.”
5. Say No To Drugs!
Though it may be tempting, it’s not advisable to take sleeping tablets on a plane. A spokesperson for British Airways advises “We don’t recommend using sleep medication during a flight as it may prevent you from following the cabin crew instructions in the unlikely event of an emergency. You may also be too sleepy to move around on the flight, which could increase your risk of circulatory problems.”
4. Say Yes To Drugs?
Melatonin is a hormone which is created by your body and regulates your biological clock. Taking a melatonin supplement at bedtime can improve the quality of your sleep and your daytime alertness. Check the side-effects and always read the label. If you want to give it a go, try before your trip in case of any adverse reaction.
3. Don’t Sleep
Try to sleep (or stay awake) during your journey, as if you’re already at your destination. A short nap, of no more than a couple of hours, can be enough to see you through until your new bedtime.
2. Update Clocks
Change your watch to your new time zone as soon as you board the plane. This helps to acclimatise you mentally.
1. Keep hydrated
Many symptoms of jet lag can be attributed to dehydration, so drink plenty of water on the plane. If you drink coffee (or any caffeinated drink), try and have it only when you need to stay awake. Avoid alcohol before and during the flight, or stick to just one or two.
Unfortunately there isn’t anyway of avoiding jet lag altogether. Many airline cabin crew stick to their home time zones whilst away for short periods to reduce the effects, but this can mean sleeping during the day and being awake all night, so might not be ideal for enjoying the local culture.
Hopefully these tips will make the adjustment a little easier.