Jet-lag can be a killer, the more time zones you cross the worse it gets. I recently have been researching ways to minimise the awfulness of it in advance of an upcoming long-haul trip to Japan and Korea. It seems like it may be impossible to avoid jet lag completely but there are ways to make the symptoms more manageable.
What causes Jetlag?
Basically, it’s all about your body’s Circadian rhythms, which can disrupted when you cross time zones and need to adapt to a new light-dark schedule. Unlucky for me and my Japan trip the effects are usually worse when travelling east.
So what should you do? I have divided the tips into pre, during and post travel.
Before you start your journey
1. Plan to arrive during the day
If possible avoiding arriving at night, daylight is your top jet-lag fighting friend. So if possible book your flights to arrive during the day.
2. Get a good night sleep the night before.
I know this can be tricky what with pre-trip excitement or super early check ins but last minute changes to your routine make it harder to adjust to the new time zone. So try to get 8 hours if possible, it will make it easier when you arrive.
3. Relax your Schedule and Anticipate the new timezone.
If your everyday schedule if pretty rigid usually, try loosening it a few days before your trip. Get your body ready to be a bit more flexible with its routine. You can also anticipate your new schedule and adjust your bedtime a couple days before (but not just the night before as per tip 2) to get your ready, e.g an earlier bedtime if going east and a later one if going west.
During the flight
4. Switch to vacation time ASAP
Change your watch and habits to the time zone of your destination as soon as you board the airplane. Make sure you eat and sleep at the correct times for your new timezone, even if these means dinner when your body is craving breakfast.
5. Avoid the Bar
This tip comes up a lot and I’ll be honest I am rubbish as following it. I love a wee in-flight red wine or a beer at the gate (or if you are lucky Champagne in the Lounge). However, alcohol does increase tiredness and dehydration, so it is a habit to break.
6. Say no to Caffeine and Sleeping Pills
These two are clearly at different ends of the spectrum but avoiding stimulants and sleeping pills will help your head stay clear and beat the jetlag blues.
7. Keep moving
Stretch your legs where possible as moving your body mid- journey will keep the blood flowing. I hate the walking up and down the plane aisles but I do love a stretch while waiting for the bathroom.
8. Eat well
As with all things in life, eating better always makes you feel better.
Also, think about what you eat, if you want to sleep, maybe have richer carb filled dishes that encourage sleep, whereas if you need to stay awake go for lighter options.
9. Drink lots of water
I think this is probably one of the top tips. Fight the dehydration by drinking lots of water throughout your flight. (If it makes you pee then it is a chance to exercise as above).
I love a bit of skin care and find moisturizing mid-flight helps me feel less dehydrated and more like a real person when flying. I usually pack a mini face cream and hand cream to apply at the start and end of the flight.
On Arrival at your Destination
11. Go outside and seek out the sun
Natural light will help your body adjust, so get out and see your destination. It will make your feel better.
12. Try not to nap when you arrive
I battle with this one as I have rubbish self-control when tried but in the long run it is better to stay in line with local time. So no going to bed before 9pm!
13. Make a plan
With that said, if you are tired it can be hard to get motivated. So plan what you are going to do on arrival. Then you just have to enjoy and no decisions.
14. Anchor your sleep
Try to get at least 4 hours sleep in the local night on your first evening there, this will help set you up for the rest of the stay.
Have I missed a tip you swear by? If so please let me know if the comments below or tweet me @eatcheesetravel
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