Nobody likes being jetlagged. Here’s a compilation of 10 tips on how to avoid and deal with jetlag, especially after those pesky long-haul flights!
Jetlag results from travelling rapidly across several time zones and your body clock being thrown out of sync. When jetlagged, we become grouchy, insomniac, heavy-headed, lethargic, and disorientated, among other unpleasant symptoms.
To combat the nasty jetlag monster, check out these 10 tips and remedies:
1. Top up on your Zzz’s
Make sure you get enough sleep before your flight! Jetlag worsens any sleep debt, possibly turning you into Oscar the Grouch later on. Start your trip fully rested so that it will be easier to adapt to the new time zone.
2. Stick to the diet maxims
Ditch your poor eating habits if you want to avoid suffering from jetlag! Get a regular and well-balanced diet; avoid excess alcohol and caffeine; drink plenty of water. Poor eating habits also make you more likely to get ill – nursing both jetlag and a bad cold is sure to reduce you to a wretched sniffing ball of misery!
Anti-jetlag diets for resetting body clocks also exist, but consult your doctor first as they can be complicated and are not suitable for everyone.
3. Work those muscles
When you’ve reached your new destination, regular exercise will help your body adjust to the new time zone. Getting fresh air by exercising outdoors will be even better, but don’t forget to stay safe if the temperatures are bone-chillingly low! Also, avoid exercising late in the evening because it can keep you awake.
4. Pre-flight tweaking
Adjusting your body clock in advance will greatly reduce jetlag. Change your schedule before you fly by gradually adjusting your exercise timetable, mealtimes, and bedtimes to match the new time zone.
Alternatively, directly setting your watch to the new time one day before you travel will quickly precondition yourself to the different time zone. For example, if your travel destination is 6 hours later, wake up 6 hours earlier on the day you travel and then sleep when it is night time over there.
5. Going east? Fly early
When travelling east, get an early flight; when travelling west, get a late flight! This helps to ensure minimal deviation from your usual time zone and cause less disruption to your precious sleep cycle.
6. Try melatonin
Melatonin is a natural hormone that regulates our sleep cycles, but crossing several time zones disrupts your body’s melatonin releases. Try taking melatonin supplements once you reach your travel destination to help your body quickly adjust. To be safe, use the lowest dose possible (0.5mg) and for as short a duration as possible.
7. Go under the sun
Daylight helps reset your body’s internal clock – it doesn’t have to be insanely sunny; a moderate amount of natural light will be effective in reducing the time you need to deal with jetlag. If you travel west, go outside in the afternoon; if you travel east, go in the morning.
8. Guzzle up
Before you alcoholics and caffeine addicts rejoice, we mean drinking plenty of water. Dehydration intensifies the effects of jetlag, and air travel makes it worse because you sit in a dry flight cabin for many, many hours. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids but stay away from alcohol and caffeine as they will dehydrate you further.
9. One day per time zone
Give yourself one day to adjust for each time zone crossed by not planning vigorous activities or lengthy sightseeing tours. For example, flying from New York to London crosses 5 time zones, so leave aside 5 days to recover.
10. Sleep aids
Take mild sleep medication if you really need them; it is better than staying wide awake all night in the new time zone. A good choice will be valerian, a herb used as a natural sleep aid. For an even better sleep, stock up on ear plugs, neck pillows, and eye shades to create a comfortable sleep environment.