Friday, June 15th, 2012

How to Minimise the Effects of Jet lag

Hit the ground running


You’ve just experienced the trip of a lifetime. You’ve picnicked beneath the Eiffel Tower, spotted celebrities in Hollywood, rode a camel in the Liwa Desert, drank Pimm’s by the Thames, and gorged on spaghetti in Milan. Nothing can burst your bubble, you’re on a high… then the jet lag sets in.

Jet lag. It’s one of only a few downfalls of international travel. But the good news is, it can be partially prevented.

To help you reset your body clock, sleep better, wake up focused, and stay alert during the day, we’ve pulled together a list of ways to minimise jet lag.


Before the Flight

Rest up: Rest well prior to travel. Lack of sleep makes you more vulnerable to jet lag.

Avoid stress: Make sure you have packed everything you need and that your itinerary is in order. Arrive at the airport ahead of time to avoid last-minute stress. A calm frame of mind will help you relax during your flight.

Acclimatise: Change your sleep routine. Push your schedule back or forward, depending on where you’re going. This will give your body a chance to gradually adjust to your new time zone.

Carb-load: Eat a carb-dense meal for dinner on the night before your flight. Recent research on clock genes has uncovered subtle effects that indicate carbs boost your ability to sleep.


During the Flight

Fly Business Class: The perks of Business Class can make your trip more comfortable and ensure that you rest well during your flight.

Reset your (internal) clock: As soon as you begin your flight, set your watch to the time at your destination and eat and sleep accordingly. This will help you to mentally prepare for your new time zone.

Stay hydrated: Drink water and avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages during your flight. Dehydration messes with your internal clock and exaggerates jetlag symptoms.

Cocoon: Eliminate noise with earplugs.  Kill the light with an eye shade. And crank the air-conditioning to lower your body temperature – a lower core temperature signals it’s time for sleep.


After the Flight

Expose yourself to light: Light is essential for resetting your internal clock. If you arrive at your destination during the day get outside to take in the natural daylight.

Protein-load: Eat a protein-rich meal. Proteins help your brain to produce neurochemicals that increase your alertness.

Warm up: Research indicates that elevating your body temperature can help reset your circadian rhythms. Exercise, take a sauna or relax in a warm bath to stay alert.

Acclimatise: Reset your internal clock by eating, going to bed, and waking up according to local time.


What do you do to help minimise jet lag?


2 Responses

  1. Aslan June 18, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Nice one, Alice! These are really useful tips for all travellers!

  2. Carey June 20, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Good advice here! The two stand-outs that really seem to work for us are

    1. sunlight at your destination. Where the time of day and location allow it, ALWAYS try and get 15 minutes or so for a walk in the sunlight (even if there isn’t much) as soon as you get settled at your destination. Just being exposed to all that Vitamin D seems to help sync your body clock up faster.

    2. don’t give in to the need to sleep until as late in the evening as you can stand. If you can hang out until 8PM or so before collapsing on your first day, it will make a huge difference to getting sync’d with the local time zone. You’ll have a better first night’s sleep, and second and subsequent nights will be like normal ones.