Seasoned travellers' advice for avoiding jet lag
Posted on Thursday 19 September 2013
in Business, Family, Flights
When flying through several time zones, whether it's for business travel or a family vacation, even the most seasoned travellers are prone to jet lag, which can disrupt one's trip. Jet lag is what happens when the circadian rhythm - the body's internal clock - becomes desynchronised due to time and light differences. It can make you feel tired, irritable, confused, drowsy or experience insomnia at night and can last for several days - sometimes the majority of your trip. But many experienced travellers swear by these tried and true tactics to prevent or at least reduce their jet lag after travel:
- The day before travel and during your flight, remain calm and avoid stressful things.
- Avoid alcohol on the flight, which could leave you bloated and dehydrated. Instead, opt for drinking extra water.
- Two to three days before you fly, go to bed and wake up two hours earlier than usual if you're flying eastward, and go to bed two hours later and wake up later if you're travelling westward.
- Some people even recommend spending a week, if possible, gradually adjusting when you sleep and eat to have it more closely aligned with your destination.
- Adjust yourself to the destination's time zone, which means that if you are taking a 10 a.m. flight from New York to Hong Kong, where it will be 11p.m., put your eye mask on, earplugs in and sleep.
- Avoid coffee 12 hours before and during the duration of your flight, especially if you plan to sleep. The caffeine is likely to make you wake up more often. If you can't avoid caffeine altogether, considering drinking green tea or something with less caffeine.
- Consider using melatonin, a supplement that the body produces naturally that controls when we sleep and wake up. Consult your doctor to see if this could be a good idea. It's been said to ease one's transition into a new time zone.
- Set your watch to the new time zone upon boarding your flight so that every time you glance at it, you'll be reminded of the current time in your destination and can remember to adjust.
- When you need to sleep during daylight, make sure to wear an eye mask or dark glasses so you can simulate nighttime, which will help your circadian rhythm adjust. Similarly, if you need to be awake at nighttime, turn on the overhead light on the plane.
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