Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or only fly occasionally, you’re likely to experience jet lag at some point. Here are some tips from Skyscanner Australia to help minimise the impact of jet lag.
There’s no one cure-all tip to avoid jet lag and, ideally, the process should start when you’re planning your flights. From the time you fly to your diet and what you do when you land, there are a number of different steps you can take to reduce your jet lag – or avoid it entirely.
- Book the right flight
- Arrive in the morning
- Consider a stopover
- Adjust your sleeping times
- Don’t stay up late
- Water is your friend
- Stay away from booze
- Say no to coffee
- Sleeping pills are a bad idea
- Change your watch
- Get up and stretch
- Head towards the light
- Do some light exercise once you arrive
- Establish a normal sleeping pattern
- Do the maths
Avoiding jet lag begins when you book your flight
1. Book the right flight
It’s best to try and book a flight that flies from east to west.
The flight path you take can significantly impact your circadian rhythms which makes you feel more jet lagged. Travelling east will go against your body’s usual routine, meaning you’re more likely to feel jet lag.
2. Arrive in the morning
If you can manage it, book a flight that will arrive in the morning.
Arriving in daylight will help you stay awake and avoid the temptation of falling into your bed straight away upon arrival.
3. Consider a stopover
Take advantage of the layover and book yourself into a hotel for the night.
Breaking up the trip with a stopover will help your body to adjust and is also a great chance to freshen up and sleep horizontally for a little while. If you can afford a few days out of your trip, it’s a great way to see a new place and bulk up your holiday.
Pre-flight procedures to avoid jet lag
4. Adjust your sleeping times
Go to sleep an hour earlier or later or wake up an hour earlier or later each day in the lead up to your flight.
In the days before your trip, think about adjusting your normal sleeping habits to be closer to those of your destination. This will help minimise the shock to your system when you reach your destination.
5. Don’t stay up late
A late night bed time before a flight is just going to exhaust you.
It may seem logical to stay up all night before a flight, but this rarely works out as planned. Try and get a good sleep before a flight and don’t stay up packing into the early hours.
How diet affects jet lag
6. Water is your friend
Staying hydrated is crucial when you travel.
The importance of water in avoiding feeling like rubbish at the end of your flight should not be underestimated, so drink up.
7. Stay away from booze
Staying hydrated is important and alcohol is not hydrating, as you’ll learn when you’re hungover.
As cute as the mini liquor bottles are, it’s best to stay away from alcohol when on a plane. The altitude will cause you to feel the effects of alcohol much more than when you’re on the ground. A hangover plus jet lag isn’t pretty.
8. Say no to coffee
Like alcohol, coffee is not a drink that helps you hydrate.
Drinks high in caffeine are not your friend when you travel. Coffee, caffeinated drinks like energy drinks and soft drinks will keep you awake and make it hard for you to recover from jetlag quickly. Swap the coffee for a herbal tea or a big glass of water.
Jet lag prevention on your flight
9. Sleeping pills are a bad idea
It’s best to sleep au naturale, if you can.
It may seem like a good idea to pop some sleeping tablets on your flight, but it’s best to only do so on advice from your doctor. Some sleeping tablets can make you feel groggy long after you’ve landed, which will make it even harder to get over jetlag.
10. Change your watch
Once you’re on board your flight, set your watch to the same time as your destination.
Try to sleep on a plane as you would in your arrival destination, not the time at your departure airport. This will help your mind adjust to where you’re going and ease the transition for your arrival.
11. Get up and stretch
Although there’s not much room on a plane to exercise, walking around and light stretches can help.
Stretching exercises are an important way to avoid DVT and improve circulation. Jet lag can cause slow circulation, so get up and get the blood pumping.
Ways to avoid jet lag once you land
12. Head towards the light
Going outside will help your body clock adjust to the new time zone.
The sun is going to be your best friend when you land. Even if it’s overcast, get outside and expose your body to as much light as possible. This will help reset your brain to your new time zone and make combatting jet lag much easier.
13. Do some light exercise once you arrive
Just like you did on the plane, light exercise helps when you land.
There’s no need to do a marathon, but some stretches and a gentle walk is a great way to refresh after your flight (and to get outside into the sunshine). Exercise also gives you an energy boost from endorphins.
14. Establish a normal sleeping pattern
The sooner you can adjust to the local time zone, the better.
Try as hard as you can to avoid falling into bed as soon as your arrive at your accommodation. Staying awake through the day for as long as you can will help you get a good sleep on your first night and will set the tone for the rest of your trip.
15. Do the maths
It’s believed the body needs around one day for each hour of time zone changes.
If you’re in a radically different time zone, expect to feel a little out of it for a while. Knowing what to expect can help you come to terms with what is happening, making the experience easier to handle.