In 2012, I flew so many times that I used to joke that I was so permanently jetlagged, I no longer felt it! (That year I flew 300 000km (200 000mi) to 15 countries on five continents with 22 airlines). That experience of flying so much for work required me to use my jet lag lessons!
Jet lag is the fatigue and sleepless caused by raidly travelling across different time zones, usually by aeroplane. There is no cure but as mentioned, there are things I do to try and minimise it:
- Try and fly westwards. Eastwards travellers generally have more jetlag because they are moving forward timewise. Good excuse to travel around the world!
- Only drink caffeine in the morning hours of your destination time zone while travelling. Definitely remove caffeine 12 hours before your planned bedtime
- Walk around the plane cabin regularly (also good for DVT) but please don’t do it when cabin crew are manoeuvring carts down the aisles!
- For the two weeks before flight, I try and go to bed at the same time each day and wake up on time.
- For ever hour of a flight, I drink 100 to 200 ml of water. Start drinking plenty of water on the day of the trip (it also forces you to go to the lavatory more often allowing you to walk)
- I usually have less sleep the night before a flight so my body is physically tireder than normal
- I switch to the destination time zone immediately on checking in for your flight. This may mean I stay awake longer when on board. If I am in business class, organise for your meals to be served at destination timings
- I go easy on alcohol on flight, giving my body strength and defences. Putting yourself to sleep with alcohol actually prolongs jetlag
- If it is night time at your destination when on the plane, switch off all gadgets, movies etc and try to sleep with an eye mask. Try to wake up at your “normal wake up time”
- When I arrive at my destination, I go out for a walk in the fresh air. This works wonders.
- Eat a healthy balanced meal within three hours. Avoid junk food
- I go to bed in the new time zone at the same time I have been going to be back home. eg if I have been going to bed at 10pm in my old time zone, then I go to bed at 10pm local time
- Consider having a warm bath before bed
- I sleep with something familiar. Try and take something from your home bedroom with you. It may be a small stuffed animal, or a scent or a small scented candle.
- Avoid screens in your bed eg laptops or phones
I don’t use medications. It has been suggested that taking melatonin helps people adjust faster to time zone changes. Call me paranoid but I want to be alert if there is an emergency so I do not use sleeping pills on a plane.
Any other jetlag tips you have used?