16 Expert Tips to Avoid Jet Lag When Flying – Beat Tiredness Across Time-zones
How to Avoid Jet Lag – Beat Tiredness When You Travel
Wondering how to avoid jet lag from happening on your next trip? There is nothing more frustrating then travelling halfway around the world only to find yourself laying awake late at night. Even worse – feeling generally unwell as you explore a new city. With messed up sleeping patterns and feelings of discomfort, jet lag can really ruin a trip.
Beating jet lag is simple if you put in some preventative measures before your trip. Also, making an effort as you travel and once reaching your destination will really make a difference to how you feel. Discover causes of jet lag below along with advice for avoiding it when crossing into another time zone.
Before you travel
1. Prepare your body for the change in time zones
Before your trip, start adjusting your body to the new time zone.You should adjust your schedule according to the local time of your destination. You can do this buy pushing your schedule one hour back or forward. This will depend on if you are heading east or west.
The farther you’re going, the earlier you should start. By adjusting your schedule before you leave, your body will acclimatise easier to the new time zone. Consider going to bed earlier and shifting the time you eat earlier or later.
2. Rest up
Any extra rest will help you prevent jet lag. Flying when you are already tired will make jet lag much worse. Get plenty of sleep before you begin your journey.
3. Lesson stress factors
Getting stressed out will make jet lag worse. Unfortunately, airports can become increasingly stressful environments. Try to stay calm before your trip. Do things to help you feel more organised like checking in online before your flight. This will make you feel much more relaxed when you arrive at the airport.
During your journey
4. Sleep during an overnight flight
If it’s night-time at your destination during your flight, then you can try to get some sleep during an overnight flight. This will help you feel more awake when you arrive at your destination. The extra nap on the flight will allow you to stay up until night time in your new time zone. You might want to invest in some earplugs and eye-shades to ensure you get the best rest possible!
Flight tip #1: Turn on the air-conditioning valve as you are trying to sleep. Cooler temperatures will actually help you fall asleep faster on the plane.
Flight tip #2: It might be worth upgrading to a flat bed seat if you are taking a long flight. This will really improve the quality of sleep you get during the flight.
Interesting fact: When seated in narrow economy seats, your brain produces an adrenaline-like substance to keep blood flowing up to your brain. This is what stops your ability to fall asleep comfortably. More leg room will help you fall into a sounder sleep.
5. Or, stay awake like you’re already there
If it’s day-time at your destination, then you should try staying awake and avoid sleeping on the plane. By doing this, you are already following the local time of your destination.
6. Eat like you’re already there
Food on the flight is given to you on a schedule consistent with the time zone you are leaving. This will prevent you from adjusting to the routine of your destination. If you get really hungry, you can eat snacks along the way or eat a lighter meal. Once you reach your destination, you can then eat at whatever mealtime you arrive at.
7. Schedule a stopover
Adding a stopover to your flight will make it much easier to adjust to the time change and help avoid jet lag. You will be much less tired once you get to where you’re going. You could have a nap, shower, see some sights or even go for a swim. This may be especially helpful when travelling with children who may become restless on the flight.
Top tip: If your flight involves three or four time zones, you should schedule your stopover at your second time zone change.
8. Set your watch to your destination time
As soon as your flight begins, you should re-set your watch to the time of your destination. This will help you mentally prepare for the new time zone.
Warning: This may cause some confusion if you have a layover in a different time zone. Be mindful of how much time you have between flights so you don’t miss a connection!
9. Be careful taking remedies
Be careful about what supplements you take (if any) this is not how to avoid jet lag or a way to prevent tiredness. If you are considering taking sleeping medication to help fight jet lag, know that it won’t help your body adjust naturally to the sleeping pattern of your new time zone. However, many take pills as a short-term solution for rest. Consult a physician about your suitability for sleeping tablets before the flight.
It is common for frequent fliers to take melatonin, a hormone your body naturally creates when you go to bed. Many people take this supplement to help their internal clock readjust to the new time zone.
The time you take melatonin is important to having the hormone work effectively. You should take it 30 minutes before your new bedtime that you are trying to adjust to. Do not make the mistake of taking melatonin when you want to fall asleep. Also, you should begin taking this supplement four days before reaching your new destination. Again, speak to your physician before taking these supplements.
10. Drink water and stay hydrated
Jet lag feels worse if you are dehydrated. This is especially the case after travelling in a dry aeroplane cabin for hours on end. Part of staying hydrated involves staying clear of drinks with alcohol and caffeine. Avoid in-flight cocktails, coffee and soda to ensure you get the best sleep possible. Remember to drink lots of water!
11. Move around
If you are on a long-haul flight, try taking regular walks around the cabin. Also, stretch your arms and legs while you are at your seat. This will help reduce your risk of developing any serious conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Once you reached your destination
12. Spend time in the sunshine
If it’s daytime at your destination, try to spend as much time as possible outdoors upon arrival. The sunlight will help your brain and body clock adjust to the new time zone.
13. Eat meals according to your new time zone
Just as you adjusting to a new sleep schedule, you are also adjusting to a new digestive routine. Avoid rich meals since they will make it harder for your body to adjust. This could lead to uncomfortable symptoms such as constipation or dysentery.
Diet tip: Try having a protein-rich breakfast the morning after you reach your destination. This will help you feel more alert throughout the day.
14. Be active once reaching your destination
Although it may be tempting to head to your hotel room, fall asleep and watch television – you should try to stay active.
If you seriously need a nap then allow yourself to take a short 20 to 30 minute nap. Sleeping longer than that will make your jet lag worse! You should also try having a brisk walk or letting light into the hotel room you are staying in.
15. Workout in the morning & evenings
Exercising at these hours will help you sleep better. If you exercise a few hours before going to sleep, you will become calmer and more tired as a result. Also, exercising first thing in the morning will help get your blood flowing and make you feel more energised.
16. Short trips
If you are having a short trip, try not to get too comfortable with your temporary time zone. All trips come to an end and you will have to adjust to your normal time zone when you go home.
You may even want to consider staying on “home time” during a short trip to make things easier when you return. Try arranging activities and sleep with your home time and routine. This will prevent any disruption to your body clock.
What is jet lag? What causes it?
Jet lag is caused when your body’s normal daily routine is disrupted after passing several time zones. Common symptoms such as tiredness are the product of your body having trouble adjusting to a new time zone.
Fun fact: The official medical term for jet lag is desynchronosis.
Your circadian rhythm
Your body’s natural 24-hour routine is referred to as your circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is controlled by your body’s biological clocks, helping to keep your body in sync. Light and dark are all factors influencing your regular routine. When you travel to a new place, your routine is disturbed.
It is common to experience this disruption since you can fly to another time zone in only a few hours. After getting somewhere so fast, your body needs time to adjust and return to its circadian rhythm.
Does it matter what direction you are going? East or west?
You will experience more severe symptoms when travelling east. The reason is that your body finds it easier to adjust to a longer day. You “gain time” when headed west and “loose time” when going east.
Jet lag symptoms can vary from one person to another. This often depends on how far you travelled and the number of time zones you crossed. Usually, people get jet lag from crossing more than three time zones. Other travellers may experience milder symptoms from shorter trips.
Symptoms often include:
- Disturbed sleep: This is the leading symptom jet lag suffers experience. It may become hard for you to go to sleep at the correct time. You may find yourself wide awake when you know you should be sound asleep. Symptoms will usually last for about one to two days and no longer. This all depends on how fast your body can adapt to the new time zone.
- Other symptoms: constipation, diarrhoea, indegestion, nausea, loss of appetite, disorientation, lack of energy, headaches & generally not feeling well
Have you suffered from jet lag?
I have personally struggled with jet lag on many occasions and it is never fun. I have found that the above techniques help lesson the symptoms and severity of jet lag. If you have any tips or advice then please share them below with fellow travellers.