Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or only travel occasionally, you’re likely to experience jet lag at some point. But it doesn’t need to ruin your trip. Here are some tips from Skyscanner Australia to help minimise the impact of jet lag.
Before you fly.
There are many things you can do in the days leading up to departure to help you feel less sleepy when you arrive at your destination.
Try adjusting your sleep routine gradually in the lead up to the trip, either moving your bedtime forward or back depending on where you are going. This will help your body get into a new routine when you’re overseas.
It can be tempting to deprive yourself of sleep or try and stay awake the night before your flight in the hope you will then sleep on the plane, but this is a bad idea. Exhausting yourself will only make you more vulnerable to jet lag and you will find it much harder to push against the feelings of tiredness when you arrive at the other end.
Don’t leave things like packing to the last minute which will cause you to stay up the night before stressing. Being organised and getting to the airport early are great ways to stay calm, helping you sleep more easily on your flight.
Book the right flight.
The flight you book can have a huge influence on whether you’ll be waking up in the middle of the day or falling asleep after lunch when you reach your destination.
Your circadian rhythms (your body clock) cope better if you fly from east to west. Travelling in a westward direction lengthens the body clock’s normal day-night cycle, whilst travelling east will run in the opposite direction of your body’s usual routine. If possible, book a flight with a westward route.
Also, consider booking a flight that takes off in the evening and arrives in the morning. This makes it easier for you to sleep on the plane and will encourage you to stay awake and adjust to your new routine faster.
LISTEN: Meet the couple who retired in their 30s and travelled the world. Post continues after audio…
On the plane.
It may be tempting to get on the plane, have a glass or two of bubbles and settle in for eight hours of movies, but this is not the best way to avoid jet lag.
When you board your flight, turn your watch to the time of your destination, and aim to mimic appropriate sleeping and eating habits for that time frame.
Avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol and opt for plenty of water instead. Dehydration will make you feel the effects of jet lag even more so make sure you stay hydrated.
Although sleeping pills may seem like a good solution, make sure you consult your doctor before taking them. Some sleeping pills can cause you to feel dozy long after you’ve landed and can make fighting jet lag even harder. If you need a bit of help getting into sleep mode on the plane consider natural remedies like chamomile tea or lavender oil.
At your destination.
Once you’ve arrived, force yourself to stay awake for the remainder of the day and don't fall into your tempting bed! You may feel a bit fuzzy after your flight, so the best thing to do is get outside for some light exercise and expose yourself to sunlight.
You don’t need to do a full work out; a simple walk in the fresh air should do the trick. Exposure to the light will help your body “reset” to your new time zone.
On your first day, try and stay awake until your usual bedtime. This will make it much easier in the coming days if your jetlag hangs around. When adjusting to a new time zone, the body requires around one day for each hour of time zone changes, so be patient. Establishing a healthy sleep routine and forcing yourself to get up and do things even when you’re feeling a bit dusty will be worth it in the long run!