How to beat jet lag

7 useful tips on how to stay fit and healthy during winter
December 8, 2017
How to beat the January blues
January 9, 2018

How to beat jet lag

You can get rid of jet lag’s unpleasant effects by following some of these simple tips. Find out more.

After being sat on a plane for hours, the first thing you usually want to do when you get home or reach your hotel is go to bed.
But your body refuses to fall into sleep mode – even though your bed has never felt so comfortable. And it’s all thanks to jet lag causing havoc with your system.

What causes jet lag?

Our bodies naturally establish what’s known as circadian rhythms. A circadian rhythm, defined by Science Daily, is ‘a roughly 24 hour cycle in the physiological processes of living beings’. It regulates our bodies to establish a routine for things like eating and sleeping.

But when you fly, the rhythms are thrown out of sync which leads to:

  • Indigestion
  • Bowel problems
  • Loss of appetite
  • Concentration issues

Fortunately, there are seven things you can do to combat jet lag and ease its nasty effects.

7 tips for beating jet lag

Avoid excess caffeine and alcohol
A pre-flight drink might be something of a tradition, especially if you’re off on a long-awaited holiday. However, alcohol can lead to dehydration and increase tiredness, especially when you’re travelling at altitude. You might think a few beers will help you sleep, but they could end up worsening the effects of jet lag.

On the other side of the scale, you might be tempted to trick your body into staying awake by dosing up on tea and coffee. Again, this affects your ability to sleep so will only increase your jet lag recovery time.

Get a head start on your sleeping pattern
Try adjusting your sleeping pattern to your destination time zone a few days before your travel. This way your body won’t feel such a shock when you eventually arrive.

Reset your watch
Set your watch to your destination’s time zone once you board the plane. So although it might be dark on your flight, it could be midday at your destination. This could help to trick your mind and body into adapting to the new time zone you’re about to enter.

Drink plenty of fluids
Staying hydrated is crucial, as dehydration can majorly upset your circadian rhythms. Opt for a bottle of water instead of fizzy, alcoholic, or caffeinated drinks, and make sure you sip it frequently.

Split the flight into stages
If you’re on a long haul flight, this can be a lifesaver when it comes to jet lag. Choose one or two cities as stopover destinations and spend a couple of days in each.

Stretch your legs
Taking the opportunity to stretch your legs – either by strolling down the aisle or performing static stretches –  helps keep your blood flowing and improves circulation. In fact this is paramount in the fight against jet lag, as poor circulation is one of its most common causes.

Rest before you fly
Getting adequate sleep before your flight also means smart planning. If you book a flight in the early hours, you’re unlikely to get much sleep beforehand. That’s why it’s best, if possible, to get a flight later in the day because at least then you’ve got the opportunity to get a full night’s sleep in before your flight.

What to do once you’ve landed

Preparing for jet lag before you fly is only half the battle. Here are 4 extra tips for what to do once you’ve landed to ensure it passes quickly and painlessly.

Check your alarms
Before you take a well-deserved sleep, make sure you check your phone or any other devices you might have set with an alarm.

There’s no guarantee they’ll have updated to your new time zone, and the last thing you want while you catch up on lost sleep is a rude awakening.

Make sure you’re in a private room
If you arrive at a hotel or a hostel, try to book a private room to avoid the risk of being woken up by someone chatting or checking in with heavy luggage just as you’re drifting off to sleep.

Use earplugs and eyeshades
You won’t want to be disturbed while you catch up on sleep, so wear some earplugs and eyeshades to cancel out unwanted interruptions.

Avoid scheduling busy work meetings or intensive sightseeing 24 hours after you land
If you’re arriving at a holiday destination, or a city for a business trip, you’re best leaving yourself a day to relax and allow the effects of jet lag to wear off.