How To Avoid Jet Lag

How To Avoid Jet Lag

Jet-lag - it’s one of those undesirable side effects from travelling through a number of time zones. Put simply jet-lag affects the bodies sleep and wake cycles. You may find yourself wide awake, staring at the ceiling, in the dark of night because your body still thinks it’s day time. As a consequence, you may feel overwhelmingly tired during the day, suffer from headaches and impaired decision making. Jet-lag on average lasts around 4 days but can persist for longer if you don’t get back to your usual routine. Studies have shown that there is a difference on the direction you fly and the severity of jet-lag. Flying from West to East (for example Melbourne to Paris) you will fair much better than the reverse route, as it lengthens your day, giving you more time to recover. Travelling Eastward you will be shortening your day and will be in direct opposition to your body-clock. You can’t gain what you have lost and therefore for it will be one days recovery for each timezone you have passed through.  

There are ways to lessen the occurrence of Jet lag and will require you to stick to a routine.

So, here are 5 tips on how to avoid Jet lag.

  • Resist the urge to sleep during the day

Sleeping for hours during the day is a big no no when you are trying to avoid jet-lag. If you have crossed over a number of time zones, your body and mind are still going to be set on the previous destinations timezone. If you arrive in the morning at your destination, then you should be going about your day as you would in that time zone. Plan your day out, whether that is sight-seeing or if you are returning home - plan an outing to ensure you are not tempted to sleep. Sleeping during the day will have you continuing in the previous time zone and unfortunately prolongs your ability to get over jet-lag. If you must sleep, keep it to a power nap only - no more than 30 minutes.  

  • Keep well hydrated

Keep your self well hydrated on your flight. The air that circulates throughout the plane is very dehydrating, which in turn will eventually cause headaches. Drinking plenty of water will help you avoid headaches and that groggy feeling once you land at your destination. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed time, these effect the quality and your ability to sleep.

  • Sunlight exposure

Get outside and get plenty of sun exposure to help re-set your body clock. Bright light therapy can also help with getting you onto the right time zone. Once you have landed at your destination, get out and enjoy a walk.

  • Melatonin

If you have made the mistake of sleeping most of the day, or your body just hasn’t adjusted to the new time zone then there is a medication called melatonin you can take to help re-set your body clock. Melatonin is a hormone that occurs naturally in the body, which helps to regulate our sleep and wake cycles. Taking a melatonin supplement before bed in the evening will help re-set these cycles and has a mild sedative effect. It is particularly effective for those who have crossed 5 or more time zones. Consult with your doctor to work out the correct dose. Stronger doses require a prescription.

  • Flight times and sleep

As difficult as it is to sleep well in economy seating, try to get as much sleep as you can whilst flying. It’s always preferable to land in your destination during the day so you can get on with the current time zone, especially if you are flying in a westward direction.

By the end of the day, you should be tired enough to sleep through the night. If travelling eastward then try to avoid the red-eye flights as sleep deprivation on top of flying through a number of time-zones will exacerbate jet-lag.


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