We’ve all been there. It feels like 3 o’clock in the morning, but the sun is beating down on you as you drag yourself out of the airport. You’ve been hit by every traveler’s worst nightmare: jet-lag. It can take up to 1-2 weeks to adapt to a new time zone, by which time you’re probably already heading back home and your sleep schedule has ruined your trip. To remedy your future travels, here are a few tips on how to combat jet-lag.
Set your watch beforehand. To get used to the time zone you’re about to enter, set your watch to your destination’s local time a day or two before you leave.
Start adapting before you leave. Wake up 1 or 2 hours earlier/later, depending on which direction you’re travelling in. You’ll also want to get a few extra hours sleep in the nights leading up to your flight.
Pick the right flight. Getting a flight that arrives at your destination in the late afternoon/evening, local time, is essential in avoiding jet-lag, especially if the time difference is 5+ hours. If possible, though less of a priority, take a flight that departs in the morning/afternoon. Evening flights will only make you more tired.
Don’t take stopovers. If a non-stop flight is an option, jump on it! When transiting in airports is essential (e.g. a long trip from England to New Zealand), spend as little time in your transit stopover (e.g. Singapore) as possible; the less time zones you’re exposed to, the better, and having to adjust to two different time-zones is double the pain!
It’s easier to have too little sleep than too much sleep. Trying to stay awake at what feels like 2 in the morning is a lot easier than trying to get to sleep at what feels like midday. To the same effect, it’s easier to control the amount of sleep you have by getting up late rather than going to bed early. Your body clock will make you toss and turn for hours before eventually drifting off at exactly the same time you would have normally gone to sleep.
Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the flight, though, contrary to the tempting drinks list, try to steer clear of alcoholic/caffeinated beverages if possible, as both can cause further dehydration.
Stay in the sun. If you need to stay awake for a few hours when you get to your destination, try and remain in direct sunlight and fresh air. This will tell your brain to keep producing hormones to keep you awake.
Avoid daytime naps. If you’re desperately tired, limit them to 30 minutes with an alarm clock. They will only worsen the jet-lag.
Eat according to your new time zone. Though you may feel like pizza at 5am, your brain will adapt to the new time zone quicker if you eat your meals at the right time. Make sure your breakfasts are rich in protein, as this will help you stay alert throughout the day.
If you stick to these tips, you should arrive at your destination in the evening so exhausted that you get an early night and 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep. When you wake up the following morning, you will be firmly set in your new time zone. Jet-lag can truly ruin a holiday or business trip, so knowing these tricks is vital in maximising your travel experience.
Do you have any other tips for fighting off jet-lag?
Let us know down below!