How to Minimize Jet Lag
The majority of people understand why jet lag occurs but of those, 67% didn't know how to cope when it happens. At Alpha we know how hard it can be when multiple time zones can wreak havoc with your body clock, and so we present our 'how to' guide to minimize the effects of jet lag - why not print it and take it with you!
Before You Leave
To avoid jet lag disturbing the first few days of your holiday as your body acclimatizes to a new time zone, you may need to think ahead and synchronize your body clock before you travel. You can't avoid jet lag, but with a few tips you can minimize the symptoms.
- Leave early! Not literally. Just pretend you're leaving two days before you actually are. Try to alter your sleep over these two days in to your new time zone.
- Avoid having a farewell party the night before as combined with jet leg it will not allow you to fully enjoy your holiday due to illness.
- Schedule! If planning to travel East try to schedule your flight during the middle of the day as the light is brighter at this time. If planning to travel West try to schedule your flight during the afternoon for the brightest light.
When on the Flight
- Take a nap! One that lasts between 45 minutes and 2 hours in the afternoon is best. Make sure you set an alarm so that you don't sleep too much. Earplugs and an eye mask can help to ensure you don't get disturbed.
- Exercise while on the plane! Don't just walk around the cabin - stretch in your chair as well. This will help your blood circulation and reduce swelling of the feet and legs.
- Drink lots of water! Not just on the plane, but throughout your entire journey. Check with your airline if you can purchase a plastic drinks bottle which can then be refilled on board, or buy bottled water at the security gate. Some airlines give out water in small cups which doesn't help if you're feeling dehydrated.
- Avoid consuming alcohol and taking unnecessary medication on board. Consuming alcohol will not only make you feel worse, but will invalidate any travel insurance cover that you have. The side effects of taking medication can often make you feel drowsy too and will not help in the long run.
- Reset your watch! It is a good idea to do this when it is announced you are about to land and before you get off the plane. This will ensure you don't get caught up in the hustle and bustle of collecting your bags, getting out of the airport, finding your hotel and then forgetting later.
When on Holiday
- Avoid heavy meals! When you arrive, try to avoid heavy meals at first as this is likely to cause bloating and put pressure on your stomach. A light meal or snack is preferred. Despite assumptions, it has been proven that jet lag cannot be affected by the type of foods eaten.
- Go outside! Did you know that jet lag hates sunlight? A brisk walk in the fresh air will help you feel better, get exercise and realign your body clock to the new time. Remember to avoid doing this close to bedtime - in the morning works best, or if you are travelling West over 4 or more time zones, the early evening is preferred.
- Use caffeine stimulants wisely! Tea, coffee and energy drinks can often helpful if you find yourself falling asleep head first in to your lunch. Make sure you avoid them 4-5 hours before bed time as in this situation they can be more of a hindrance than a help. Stimulant products are not recommended for those including but not limited to: Those who are considered minors; Are pregnant; Have heart problems; Planning to take part in sports activities.
Instead of using caffeine stimulants, consider having a short nap to give your body the natural boost it needs. Remember to set your alarm for between 45 minutes and 2 hours. If you sleep longer than this, your body goes in to a deep sleep and you can wake up feeling worse than before. It is important to avoid having naps close to bed time.
- Fit in with the locals! If they eat lunch at 1pm, rest at 5pm and go to bed at 11pm, do these activities at the same time. This will reaffirm your new routine and will help to manually adjust your body clock. British Airways also has an excellent sleep calculator tool you can use or alternatively download a sleep calculator app.
Sleep Etiquette Checklist
Do you find yourself lying awake at night and not able to sleep? Check through these possible causes that could be preventing you from entering the land of nod.
- Disturbance regarding noise levels will vary from person to person, however, if a noise is between 40 - 70 decibels it will usually keep you awake.
- Certain noises you will become accustomed to within time but if a noise is constantly keeping you awake, trying covering it with 'white noise' such as a fan or air conditioning unit. A radio, television or listening to music sometimes also helps to encourage sleep and can replicate familiar sounds.
- A horizontal angle presents a better quality of sleep. Check your pillow to ensure it is not too bulky or too flat to support your neck properly. If you are trying to sleep while travelling and don't have a pillow, a rolled up item of clothing is a good substitute.
- Disturbance regarding noise levels will vary from person to person; however, the ideal temperature needs to be between 54 - 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything hotter or colder than this will usually to keep you awake.
- If you get cold, instead of putting more clothing on, add another bedding layer. It is much easier to throw off the extra bedding layer when you wake up in the middle of the night still half asleep, than layers of clothing.
- Sleeping in cold altitudes can cause problems at 13,200 feet and above. Remember, the higher the altitude, the higher disturbance. This is because the oxygen is limited and changes in your breathing, however, it takes between two to three weeks for your body to adjust to these changes.
Watch our jet lag video!
Like your information visual? We've created this video to help you understand what jet lag is and what you can do to prevent it.Have we missed anything out? If you have any secrets of your own to prevent or cure jet lag, why not share them with us and other travellers! If you enjoyed this article, please help others to minimize jet lag by using the social share buttons.