9 Tips for jet lag that really work
Jet lag, a nemesis for many a traveller. The quest of how to beat jet lag, is like the quest for the Holy Grail.
The old adage “West is best, East is a beast” rings true on every flight over 4-5 hours but if you are for example flying from the UK to Australia, flying east can’t be avoided, if you are flying in the other direction….awesome.
Although one can’t completely beat jet lag there are certainly strategies to minimise it – keep reading below for my top 9 tips of minimising jet lag as much as possible.
1. Sleep, Sleep, Sleep
This is obvious right? Not necessarily. Firstly, start by going to bed an hour or so earlier in the days leading up to your flight, then get a good nights sleep the night before you fly.
If you are like me, my brain gets far too excited the night before a long haul flight. As much as the intention is there to get a full 8 hours sleep, its rare that I get more than 4 – but if you can get a full night try to do so.
Sleeping on the plane – Between screaming toddlers, the snoring bloke next to you, and ill timed announcements, it can be quite difficult to see sleep on a flight, take at look my post “How to survive long haul flights” for my tips on getting some shut eye.
I’ve been using jetlagrooster.com for years, pop your flight details and the times you usually go sleep into the site and it will give you a tailored schedule of when to head to bed and wake up in the days leading up to your flight and also when you land.
2. Hydration – Drink that water!
Jetlag is a partly a result of dehydration, sitting in a pressurised cabin for hours on end means you are already on the back foot of the hydration train after just a couple of hours. In the days leading up to your flight, drink 2 litres of water a day. On the flight have a bottle of water with you that you can keep refilling as needed, Drink often! (those little cups of water are not nearly enough).
By keeping hydrated on your flight, you’ll be half way there to kicking jet lag in the ass.
3. Set your watch to your destination time
Only do this when you are actually on the plane, any earlier, well you might miss your flight. By having your watch (or your phone) set to your destination time, you’ll be aware of when you actually need to get some sleep.
4. Stay awake on the flight (in line with the time at your destination)
Now that your watch is set to your destination time, stay awake for as long as you can until it is night time at your destination, then try to sleep…. Easier said than done I know, but if you have the right entertainment (for example, me catching up on the last season of Game of Thrones) it should be keep you awake for as long as you need to be. Going to sleep in line with the time of your destination will begin to reset your body clock well before you arrive.
5. Avoid alcohol and caffeine
Not altogether but keep the booze and the caffeine to a bare minimum. That said, I do love a sneaky post dinner single malt on a flight, AND coffee is life. But overindulging in either of these on the plane will make your jet lag worse on the on the other end. If you do need a coffee on a flight, try to have this in line with AM time at your destination. Alternatively, bring some herbal tea bags with you on the flight (Chamomile will help you relax if you are struggling to sleep)
6. Build in a stopover (if you have the time and/or the money)
Now stopovers are great, but do not work for everyone. Much of my long haul flying is time sensitive (starting a new gig, weddings, funerals etc) and generally I do not have the time or the additional budget to have a stopover.
If you do however have the time and/or the cash for a stopover go for it! For the usual Europe to Australia routes, stopovers can be had Singapore, Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi and Dubai (to name a few) so go out have an adventure! And explore another city a couple of days, it will ease you into the timezone at your final destination when you do eventually arrive.
7. Arrive at your destination during the day
Arriving at your final destination in the morning or early afternoon is the best way to begin getting your jetlag sorted. See point 8.
8. Get plenty of daylight! (and if you are close to the beach go for a swim!)
If you have arrived during the day (as above) go out into the sunshine, the more the better! Take yourself for a walk – keep moving and strtch out those legs.
On my last flight to Australia, upon arrival and being super excited at being near a proper beach once again, I went straight to the beach and into the water for a long swim. Not only do you get jolted awake by the cold water, but it keeps you energised for hours. No beach? Use the pool at your hotel, or at a pinch have a super cold shower.
9. Eat at the right time
There are many schools of thought as whether you eat or don’t eat on flights in order to beat your jet lag. Fasting for a full 24 hours (assuming your flight is that long) is a little daft but if you are on a shorter flight (8-10) hours go for. My strategy has always to eat at the same times as I would at my destination, and eat lighter (I tend to go for a vegetarian meal as they are lighter than the stodge that usually comes out with the main service).
By trying to eat at the meal times of your destination (this is where changing the time on your watch/phone comes in handy) you’ll be resetting your body clock during your flight and before you get to your destination.
Got any other super awesome tips to beat jet lag? please comment below with yours!