Unfortunately hand in hand with incredible holidays in exotic destinations comes jet lag. It seems to be an inevitable side affect. There is no cure in my book. Anything above 5 hours hits me like a ton of bricks. Every single time.
I’ve never tried the drugs route, but over the years I have a found a variety of things that definitely seem to help.
Drink plenty of water during your journey and when you arrive.
Avoid alcohol and excessive caffeine
For some people knocking back half a dozen bottles of vino or a few double G&T’s seems to be the key to knocking themselves out for the duration of the flight. How they feel when they arrive? I don’t know. It’s not something I can do (but I’m a lightweight). If you know drinking gives you a hangover, don’t do it. Caffeine has it’s benefits – sometimes a well placed cup of tea or a steaming cup of coffee will hit the spot and keep you awake that bit longer when you arrive. Over do it though and you’ll be left wired and will feel twice as worse the day after. I am led to believe that the benefits/negatives depend can also depend on the direction of your travel. But I’m no scientist! So again my advice – listen to your body and don’t do anything you wouldn’t normally.
Not many of us will be travelling First Class being served a gourmet three course meal. Whilst airline food has come a long way even in my lifetime, it’s still not exactly Michelin Star and can be heavy, stodgy and not that good for you. Hit Pret, Starbucks, Boots, Costa, or whatever other takeaway option there is at the airport and choose something light and tasty to satisfy you. I also suggest you have a think about the time of your flight and when you’re eating at the airport. I think we can all be guilty of it – we have tea at the airport to pass the time, board the flight, eat the snack, have a drink, then eat the meal they plonk in front of us. Do you really need two dinners?! Or are you eating out of boredom and to pass the time? Don’t stuff yourself – flying can bloat you anyway, so don’t add to it. You need to be feeling as tip top as you can when you arrive.
Sleeping on the plane
If you like to sleep and can sleep, then sleep, if you don’t then don’t. Don’t force it. I know it’s an easy way to pass the time, but it can be more stressful trying to force yourself into a sleep. Unless it comes naturally to you I’d say it’s unlikely to help you at the other end. My husband and sister rarely sleep on a plane, whereas I more often than not will. When we arrive do I feel better than them? Or are they more tired than me? Do they sleep better that first night? Nope. Make sure you have music, books and comfy headphones for those fab films to keep you entertained.
Brush your teeth before you land
There is nothing that makes you feel more human than brushing your teeth! For me it’s something that really perks me up, especially after a long flight. Whether it’s a daytime flight or a nighttime flight, make use of the little freeby or pop a toothbrush and toothpaste in your hand luggage.
Let there be light…
This is a difficult one and not really in your control – but if you do arrive during daylight try to get outside and get as much fresh air as you can, and exposure to natural light. The fresh air will just feel good after breathing in the yucky plane air and blow away some cobwebs. The natural light will start to help reset your body clock – I think it’s something called circadian rhythms…don’t quote me on that! On a basic level though trying to expose your body to the day/night cycle of your destination will help you ease into a new routine. Even if you’re knackered when you arrive, if it’s only 2pm in the afternoon avoid shutting yourself in a dark room and going to bed. Not only are you missing out on a half day of your holiday but you’re setting yourself up for feeling like crap later and delaying getting over the jet lag. Clearly if you arrive at 10pm at night then going to bed it quite acceptable! This leads on to…
Try to resist going to bed too early. Again this is easier said than done and I have been guilty of having a quick lie down before dinner, missing dinner altogether and waking up at stupid o clock in the morning, hungry, disorientated and grumpy.
When it is time for bed, or even as soon as you arrive at your accommodation, hit the shower. Pretty much no matter what time I arrive I always shower before going to bed that first night. Wash away that plane smell and get into some cosy, or cool, PJ’s ready to hit the deck.
Eat something light before you go to sleep
This may just be me and my family, but hunger always seems to strike us!!! Not for anything big, but normally just something tasty to fill a little hole! A little snack we’ve found, has stopped us waking up starving in the middle of the night so choose something light, and it might help you sleep a little longer.
Now just go with it…
You’ve done everything you can and you’re in bed. Relax and try to stay calm. If sleep doesn’t come, then don’t worry. If you’re unable to lie and enjoy the peace, then pop a dim light on and read, or listen to some music, get up and stretch your legs for ten minutes, or if it’s your thing make a hot drink (not coffee…!!!). Avoid bright lights though. Then try your bed again. If you’ve managed a good block of sleep and you’ve made it to early morning, i.e 5am then sometimes it’s worth cutting your losses. Get up and start your day. With a shower and now some coffee!
Enjoy your first day. Don’t over do it. If you can plan then something relaxing, explore and don’t over exert yourself. Stay hydrated, don’t drink too much coffee/alcohol, eat well and get lots of fresh air. Set yourself up so you’re ready for bed that night and hopefully you’ll find yourself settling into a routine with jet lag long behind you.
How do you cope with Jet Lag?! Comments in the box 🙂 E x