Holiday time is precious. When you’re travelling, the last thing you want to do is waste precious hours - or even days - feeling seedy, exhausted and grumpy thanks to jet lag. And coming back home is hard enough without having to stumble back to work in a fog.
While planes have gotten bigger, faster, and fancier, airlines haven’t yet come up with a magic cure for the dreaded jetlag. Luckily, there are many things you can do to prevent it so that you can step off the plane fresh and ready for action.
The last few days before you head off on holiday are often frantic, as you sort last minute travel details, pack, and wrap up jobs at work and home. Try to get organised well ahead of time and spend the last 24-48 hours relaxing, sleeping, and storing energy reserves.
Drink more water than normal
Planes circulate air from outside; at flying altitudes, the humidity of that air is around 10% - three times drier than the Sahara Desert! On a ten-hour flight, you’ll lose four percent of your body water, [https://www.marieclaire.co.uk/life/travel-dehydration-509326] which will leave you headachey, irritable, and super tired. You should drink 250mls of water for every hour you’re in the air. Start hydrating before you board, and continue once you land.
Skip the alcohol
It can be tempting to start the vacation the minute you step on the plane, but try to avoid drinking alcohol until you arrive. Alcohol is dehydrating and can mess up your natural sleep cycles by making you sleepy.
Ditch the caffeine
Caffeine can be a great tool to help your body get into natural “wake-up” cycles when you arrive, but try to give it a miss during your flight. It will mess with your sleeping patterns and cause dehydration.
Set your watch asap
To help your body get into the new groove quickly, set your watch (or phone) to the new time zone as soon as you hear your pilot announce the time at the destination. Once you arrive, forget about what the time is at home and organise activities around the new time immediately, even if you have to fake it ‘til you make it!
Obviously, after your flight lands! If it’s day time when you arrive, head outside and explore instead of “resting” in the hotel room. The fresh air and exercise will help kickstart your sluggish circulation, and the sunlight will help your body get into its natural rhythms more quickly.
The impact of jet lag is much more severe if you travel west to east, even if you are flying for the same length of time. That’s because bedtime will come much earlier than you’re used to; it’s difficult to go to sleep when your body still thinks its 4 pm! It’s much easier to keep busy and push your body to stay up a little longer - as in east to west travel.
Pick your flights
If you have the option, choose a flight that arrives during the day, so you can push through, hit the streets, and get some sun before hitting the hay, rather than trying to force yourself to sleep when you’re wide awake.
There’s nothing worse than spending the first few days of a trip stumbling around feeling like a zombie.
With a bit of careful planning and self-care, you can not only survive your flight comfortably, but start enjoying your travels as soon as you hit the ground. You’ll find it easier to get in sync with your new destination and make the most of every minute.
So, pop a water bottle in your bag, rest up before you go, and have an amazing trip!