6 ways to beat jet lag on your next long-haul trip
There’s nothing worse than arriving at your holiday destination, only to fall into exhaustion after a long-haul flight. How do you beat it? Follow these tips to bounce off the plane and straight into adventure, instead.
Most of us have travelled across time zones and experienced the insomnia, irritability and sheer exhaustion of jetlag. Our bodies are programmed to do certain things in a 24-hour period, known as the human circadian rhythm, which is linked to the rising and setting of the sun. Combine this with a pressurized aircraft cabin, unhealthy food and sitting for a long time and jet lag hits.
While jet lag affects everyone differently, here are 6 tips that will help you beat it.
Get off the plane refreshed, rather than exhausted.
1. Arrive in Daylight
If you can, book a flight that arrives at your destination during the day. This makes it much easier to stay awake as you’ll want to get out and about. Eat lunch and dinner according to the local time and stay up until the time you’d usually go to sleep, rather than succumb to tiredness. Your body and mind will thank you for it the next day, so you can invest in fun, rather than exhaustion.
2. Have a Flexible Schedule
Preparing in advance for a long-haul flight helps your body recover quickly from it. If you generally follow a fairly set schedule, as in eating and sleeping at the same times each day, try relaxing it a week in advance. This helps you adjust to new time zones more easily, as your body adapts to varied behaviour.
Whether it’s excitement, a bit of anxiety or last minute packing, getting a good night’s sleep the night before a long flight often goes on the backburner. However, leaving frazzled and already tired is a one-way ticket to jet lag. Make sleep and relaxation a priority, before you board.
4. Eat Right and Move on the Plane
Eating right can be a bit tricky, depending on the airline menu. Protein-rich foods, like eggs, are a good choice to keep you going. As you’re sitting down for so long, skip the bread rolls and anything heavy. Stock up on healthy snacks before you leave, so you’re not tempted by endless packets of salty nuts or chips. Every hour or so, get up and go for a walk and stretch those limbs to keep your circulation flowing.
Unfortunately, the top four things we usually want to consume on a flight, are the worst for contributing to jet lag.
5. Avoid Coffee, Alcohol, Sugar and Sleeping Pills
Unfortunately, the top four things we usually want to consume on a flight, are the worst for contributing to jet lag. Coffee, alcohol and sugar all lead to dehydration, so swap them for water and herbal tea instead. Sleeping pills may help you get some shut eye, however they’ll leave you feeling fuzzy when you wake up and do nothing to combat jet lag.
Exercise when you arrive.
6. Exercise in the Sun
When you arrive, the absolute best thing to do is find some sun in the outdoors and exercise. Go for a walk or jog on the beach, have a swim or hire a bike. Whatever you do, it’ll get your circulation going and boost your endorphins, so you’re ready and raring to move into holiday mode.
Nicole Leigh West
Nicole Leigh West is the author of fiction novel, 'The Gypsy Trail' and an internationally recognised travel and lifestyle writer.