The majority of us are curious people; we want to learn about, explore and experience life to the fullest. Travelling is one of, if not the best, way to see what this world really has to offer, and visiting our favourite countries and experiencing new cultures is on almost everyone’s bucket list. If only the most interesting places were only a stone’s throw away! Often the places with the biggest culture difference or most stunning landscapes are those a little further afield, and unless you’ve got months to burn you’re probably going to want to fly to your destination.
But the flying experience isn’t exactly the definition of relaxing, and once to get to your destination after a long haul flight your body has not yet adjusted to the new timezone.Jet lag can leave you tired and irritable, increase stress and even weaken your immune system. You want to make the most of every day you have in a new exciting place, and with short duration trips, you simply don’t have days on end to gradually align to these new wake and sleep times. For every 1-2 hour difference in timezone that you cross when flying, experts reckon the body takes a day to adjust, so multiple hours difference can leave you groggy for a good few days.
But not all hope is lost; Pharmica have compiled a list of our top tips to prevent jet lag from ruining your vacation or trip abroad.
Top Tips to Beating Jet Lag
It’s not quite as easy as clicking your fingers and being done with jet lag, but by following these steps you’ll be surprised at just how chirpy you’ll be during the days following your outward flight.
- Preparation is key
The ultimate cause of jet lag is the misalignment of timezones from where you started to where you end up. One way of getting around this is to gradually make adjustments in your wake and sleep times prior to getting on the plane, so that your circadian rhythm doesn’t experience a huge shock. If you’re flying eastward for example, 3 – 6 days before your flight you should gradually set your alarm earlier, moving in increments of half an hour per day, and eat your evening meal earlier whilst heading to bed before usual. This way, you’ll internal body clock will have no surprises when you arrive at your destination as it will be set up ready to go.
- Hydrate regularly
Being dehydrated at the high altitudes of air travel has been shown to make you more tired than normal, potentially throwing off your timings and adding to any jet lag symptoms you might experience. It’s not the best idea to go wild on the free in-flight alcoholic and caffeine-filled beverages, as these will dehydrate you too.
- Think about your nutrition
Being low on all the vital nutrients your body needs will not do you any favours when trying to battle jet lag. Before you head off, make sure the foods you’re eating are rich in vitamins and minerals, with enough protein and complex carbohydrates to give your body fuel, and steer clear of the fast-food options however tempting. Junk food containing lots of fat will be more difficult to digest and give you a worse quality sleep. You can compliment your meals with vitamin supplements (like a multivitamin) to ensure you’ve covered all bases.
- Tune out Distractions
For countering jet lag, sleeping at the right times to account for changes in timezone is essential. Depending on which direction you’re flying and at what time of day, this might just fall during your flight. Planes aren’t exactly known for their serene sleeping conditions, so anything you can do to filter out the disturbances from crying babies, engine noises or bright lights is a plus. Bring an eye mask and earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones for blocking distractions and ensuring your sleep conditions are as best as they can be given the situation.
- Try medication
If you need to get some Z’s on the flight but you’re a light sleeper, consider sleep medication such as Nytol that will not only help you to nod of to sleep faster, but reduce the risk of a disturbance waking you up mid nap. Another option is a melatonin supplement like Circadin, that will help your circadian rhythm made the switch to the new timezone quicker.