Jetlag, a temporary physiological condition, can have an impact on our bodies when we travel across two or more time zones in one go. It can be frustrating, a hindrance, and everybody experiences jetlag to different degrees. But never fear, there are ways to minimise the symptoms of jetlag, and to adjust to your new time zone as quickly as possible! From my own experience, I have found the following tips to be the most useful in fighting jetlag, allowing you to make the most of every moment at your destination!
1. Sleep as much as possible on the flight
I know this probably isn’t what you wanted to hear. With amazing entertainment systems on long haul flights, this can seem like a perfect opportunity to catch up on all those movies you wanted to see. But trust me, your body will thank you when you reach your destination and are able to focus and stay awake without sticking matchsticks in your eyes. Whether you are arriving at your destination early in the morning or later on at night, getting enough shut-eye on the plane will help your body to adjust to the new time zone quickly and easily.
2. Stay awake until a normal time
This may be excruciating on the first day, but when you reach your destination, avoid falling asleep until a relatively normal bedtime hour. If you arrive early in the morning, this might seem an impossible task, but this will make it so much easier to fall asleep later on and sleep through the night. If you get really desperate, allow yourself a nap, but don’t sleep longer than half an hour! Otherwise you risk falling into a deep sleep, which will only reinforce a bad sleeping pattern and encourage your body to be awake late into the night.
3. Eat at normal times
One unusual side effect of jetlag is feeling hungry at odd times, and not hungry at typical meal times. Fight those food cravings in the middle of the night, and even if you aren’t hungry at breakfast time, try and get a good meal in. Your body gets used to being nourished at certain times of the day, and just like your sleeping pattern, your eating pattern needs time to readjust.
3. Get out in the sunlight
Sun and daylight are crucial ingredients in resetting our circadian rhythms. Your body will be used to a particular day-night rhythm, and will need time to adjust to that of your destination. Light helps to inhibit the production of melatonin in the brain, a hormone that makes us feel sleepy. So, light exposure will help to reassure your body of its new rhythm, helping you to adjust quickly. If you arrive at your destination early in the morning or during the day, don’t mope around inside. Rather, get your body out and about in the daylight.
5. Use a sleep-aiding medication
Everybody is different, and everyone reacts differently to sleeping tablets, so be careful with this piece of advice. When I travel across more than eight time zones, I often find a herbal based sleeping supplement helps me to relax and doze off at the right time in the evening. Maybe this is just a placebo effect, but as long as you follow your doctor or pharmacists instructions carefully, it can’t do you any harm. But know your body, assess the impact of a sleeping pill on your body carefully the first time you use it, and follow the instructions from your doctor or pharmacist.