If you’re off on a vacation this holiday season, or returning from across the seas for the annual Christmas visit, you’ll most likely come up against that old familiar foe- jet lag. Something between a hangover and a walking zombie state, jet lag can leave you regretting your trip the moment you hit the ground. Check out our fast tips for easing the effects and getting on with your trip.
1. Fly by night
Taking an overnight flight helps you stick to a normal sleeping pattern, allowing you to feel more rested on arrival. The more sleep you get on the plane, the more prepared your body will be to deal with the physical stress of dealing with the time difference on arrival.
2. Adjust your clock
A few days before your trip, start gradually adjusting your sleeping and eating schedule to coincide with your destination. Set your watch to the time at your destination as soon as you board to get your head around the time change.
3. Kick the caffeine
Try to avoid caffeine the 12 hours before flying and during the flight. Coffee helps you to stay awake longer, but will wake you up more frequently if you do manage to drift off. In the end, it will result in less sleep time.
4. Get hydrated
Dehydration is a major contributor to jet lag. Humidity levels in an aircraft sit around 15%, the same as the Atacama Desert, so drinking water is about the best thing you can do. Drink about 8 ounces of water per hour, and keep your lips and skin hydrated with lip balm and moisturising lotion.
5. Pass on the wine
Alcohol should be limited if not avoided completely. The change in altitude and dehydration quickens and magnifies alcohol’s effects, making one drink on a plane equivalent to about 2 or 3 on the ground for symptomatic effects.
If timed correctly, a sleeping pill may be a useful addition on a short flight. Alternatively, melatonin helps to set the body’s time clock and is a non-prescription drug that is frequently used to allocate the symptoms of jet lag as it seems to affect the body’s circadian rhythms. Any drug should be familiar to you or tested at home before flying.
9. Get outside
The sun’s rays are the most natural and powerful cue to our bodies that it is time to be awake and active. It’s important you spend time outside in the sunlight after arrival to help reset your body’s natural clock. This also helps you to resist the temptation to cozy up for a ‘short’ nap, which can often turn into hours of sleep and leave you wide awake come night time
10. Eat right
The digestive system can react strangely to pressurised cabins, so it’s best to avoid gas-producing foods such as beans, cabbage, cauliflower and milk. As meals cue the body’s time clock, it’s best to adjust what and when you eat according to the time at your destination. Chose a light, easily-digestible meal during the flight and avoid refined carbohydrates, fatty foods, and snacks or drinks that are high in sugar and salt.