How to beat jet lag

Upset stomach, insomnia, fuzzy-headedness and a mixed-up body clock are just some of the irritating symptoms of jet lag that can hinder your big overseas adventure.

While there’s no wonder cure for jet lag, there are simple measures you can take to minimise its impact and make the most of your trip.


Pre-flight

  • If your journey crosses multiple time zones, consider booking a flight with a stopover. Stopovers can take the stress out of long-distance travelling and can make it easier to adjust to the time change. If you have a short stopover of just a few hours, take the opportunity to walk around the airport and shower if possible. This will freshen up the mind and body and help you feel ready for the final leg of the flight.

  • Start adjusting your body clock a few days before your flight. If you’re flying east, go to bed slightly earlier each night. If you’re going west, begin waking and going to bed later.

  • Not surprisingly, healthy bodies cope better with the stress of jet lag than those in poor health, so try to get plenty of sleep before your trip, exercise and eat well.

During the flight

  • As soon as you step on the plane, set your watch or phone to the local time at your destination. This will help you get in the mindset of your new time zone and you can start to sync sleeping and eating patterns with the time at your destination.

  • Stay hydrated, as dehydration can intensify the effects of jet lag. This means it’s best to avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can exacerbate the dehydration already caused by sitting for hours in moisture-sapping aeroplane cabins. Drink water, and lots of it.

  • Top up your sleep on the plane. Even if it’s only a few hours here and there it will make a big difference when you arrive by helping you stay awake until evening, local time. Maximise inflight comfort and sleep easier with a travel neck pillow, ear plugs and an eye mask, and wear comfy, loose-fitting clothes.

  • On long-distance flights, take frequent walks around the cabin, and stretch regularly to improve comfort and alertness. This will also reduce idleness and reduce the risk of developing deep-vein thrombosis (DVT).

  • Avoid taking sleeping pills, as these won’t help you adjust to time zones and may wipe you out for hours –inhibiting your ability to get up and move around, which combats DVT. If you are seriously thinking about taking sleeping pills, consult with your doctor first.

When you arrive

  • Once you land, it’s essential you stay awake until an early local bedtime. Walking around outside in the fresh air and sunlight will help your natural body clock stay awake, plus gentle exploration of your destination will help stimulate the mind – you won’t even notice how tired you are!

  • If you’re having trouble getting to sleep, take a hot bath, put some drops of lavender oil on your pillow and block out any streets lights tohelp to relax your body and set the internal clock for ‘sleep mode’.

Travel essentials

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