How to avoid jet lag: top tips

Tuesday 21, September 2010


How to avoid jet lag: top tips


The twentieth century saw the emergence of a number of nasty man-made creations and whilst perhaps not being up there with the atom bomb, jet-lag is certainly no laughing matter if you suffer from it badly. Skyscanner takes a look at ways to beat this unfortunate travel side effect.


Why do we get jet lag?

Our bodies are naturally programmed to do a number of things throughout a twenty-four period such as eating and sleeping, and these circadian rhythms as they are known, get thrown out wildly when we travel long distances at high speed.


A substantial change in time zones can mean that our bodies get very confused indeed. This can lead to extreme fatigue, indigestion and bowel problems, loss of appetite, memory and concentration issues or a general feeling of being unwell.


Is one direction worse to travel than another?

Generally speaking, people find that travelling east produces the worst jet lag. This is because travellers find themselves trying to get to sleep when their bodies are actually waking up and are then forced to get up at what feels like the middle of the night. To put it another way, we are better at dealing with a longer day than a shorter one. Studies have found that it takes a full day to recover from each time zone one travels through.


Before you travel

  • People with rigid schedules of eating and sleeping suffer the worst jetlag so if you are more flexible about these things, you begin with a natural advantage.
  • Make sure you are fully rested before you travel and get a good night’s sleep before you leave.
  • Try and alter your sleep patterns before you go to more closely match the times of your destination.
  • Plan your flights so you arrive in daylight since you will feel more like staying awake and fitting in with your new schedule.
  • Try and build in a stopover – this will mean your body has more time to adapt to the new routine.


On the flight

  • Tempting though the free drinks might be, the effects of alcohol at altitude can increase tiredness and also cause dehydration which will add to your woes upon arrival.
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine in them (coffee, cola etc) if you are due to land at night, since this will affect your sleep patterns. But do drink plenty of water onboard.
  • Try to avoid sleeping pills on flights since this will do nothing to assist the jet lag and will just leave you feeling fuzzy when you land. Saying that, on a long flight, you should try to sleep, and a low dose of sleeping pills may help you drop off.
  • Set your watch to time of your destination – psychologically, this gets you in the right frame of mind.
  • Move around regularly and do exercises to keep the blood circulating which will make you feel better.


When you arrive

  • Start eating three meals a day in line with the new time zone.
  • Get as much daylight as you can since the cycle of light and dark is a powerful factor for human beings.
  • Do some exercise to boost endorphins to make you feel better and stretch out some of the kinks from a long flight.
  • Get as much sleep as you normally would in a 24 hour period – make up any shortfall with a snooze during the day if necessary.



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