We all know the feeling. We finally step off the plane and into our dream destination, ready for adventure, new cuisine, exciting landscapes and then BOOM, you're slapped in the face with a sudden wave of crippling tiredness. Jet lag is a sleep disorder which results from your body's circadian rhythms being messed around by long-distance travel. Your body is ready to go to sleep, but your new destination is saying "wake up it’s time for exploring!"...
But what can be done about it? Here are my tips to help you overcome jet lag, so you can feel fresh and ready to start your adventure:
Avoid caffeine and alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol can often hinder your ability to beat the fatigue. I know that cup of coffee is tempting but caffeine will act as a stimulant and prevent your ability to sleep whereas alcohol will cause excessive tiredness and often dehydrate you. There’s nothing wrong with one drink, but just stick to that one to aid your recovery.
Set your watch to the new time zone
As soon as you get on your flight set your watch at the new time zone you’ll automatically begin trying to work to that time. I recently did this on my return flight from Sri Lanka even though I knew it was 3am Sri Lankan time when we would be landing back in the UK, I stayed awake so that I could adjust my body to the local time and get the perfect night’s sleep. By doing this you will be able to get yourself psychologically prepared for the new rhythm you’ll be entering. Just make sure to set your watch whilst on the flight, we don’t want the mistake of you setting it beforehand and missing your flight.
Avoid arriving at night
I’ve made this mistake far too many times. When booking your flight try to choose one that will arrive during the day – that way instead of crawling into bed when you arrive you can go out explore and allow your body to adjust to the new time zone. This is especially important when flying East. This often leave you feeling more jet lagged as you are losing hours instead of gaining them (as with flying west, thus arriving in the day will really give you an extra helping hand.
Make the right food choices
You’ve landed at your connection destination, you are tired, hungry and you can see a McDonalds in the distance. Don’t do it! As much as you’d love to demolish a burger right now, filling up on high carb and fatty foods will leave you feeling tired and sluggish which can prevent you from synchronising your body clock to the local time zone. Try and opt for something lighter and more nutritious.
Plan to stay a night
Why not indulge a bit and split up your trip! Most of the time your flight will have a connection, so instead of spending 2 hours or more waiting at the airport why not spend a night or two in an exciting new locale. A relaxing stop over can really help you in the battle against jet lag – plus with most connections occurring at Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong and Singapore it’d be rude not spend a day or two exploring these vibrant cities.
Do some exercise
My favourite thing (after travel of course) must be exercise. I just love the way it makes me feel. Doing some exercise after your flight can help release some endorphins and really stretch out all the knots that have probably formed during the flight.
Don't take sleeping pills
Sleeping pills are a bad idea, they will do nothing in helping you beat the jet lag and more than often leave you feeling worn out. If you are struggling to sleep I always find a cup of chamomile tea will send me on my way, so why not bring your own tea bags and ask the air hostess/steward for some hot water.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
As many of you already know flying can really dehydrate your body. Studies have shown that on an average 10-hour flight, men can lose up to 2 litres of water and women 1.6 litres. That’s a LOT of water, so make sure to have a reusable water bottle on hand to keep yourself hydrated. Dehydration is a major contributor to the feeling of jet lag.