How To Avoid Jet Lag

Holidays are fantastic, but the jet lag involved can put a lot of people off. Here’s our guide to preventing it as much as possible.

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Humankind’s success in conquering flight has not come without cost, that of the dreaded jet lag. Anyone who is able to be in one location the other side of the world and then pass through several times zones to the other side will inevitably experience some difficulty in getting their body back to their normal routine.

Jet lag may affect physical and mental performance and the symptoms include fatigue, insomnia, disorientation, headaches, light-headedness and more. Medical evidence also shows that jet lag makes travelers more susceptible to illness such as colds, flu, and stomach upsets.

Jet lag can be especially bad if you fly from west to east...

Jet lag can be especially bad if you fly from west to east, because it is more difficult for your body to adjust to ‘losing time’ when you journey east than to ‘gaining time’ when you fly from east to west.

Whatever steps are taken by the flyer, none will entirely eliminate jet lag. Jet lag is an individual thing which affects different people in different ways.

Top tips for avoiding jet lag

  • Start changing your sleeping pattern a few days before you leave so that it more closely resembles time zone at your destination. Adjusting your bedtime by an hour a day will lessen the effects of jet lag.

  • Get enough rest in the days prior to your trip. Too many people start off tired before they have even begun, which just exaggerates the effect of any jet lag.

  • Reset your watch at the beginning of your flight so that you start to think in terms of your new time zone.

  • Drink plenty of fluid during and after the flight. Planes are notoriously dry and cause dehydration, and the common wisdom is that dehydration is a leading cause of jet lag. This advice also includes avoiding alcohol.

  • If it is night-time at your destination, then sleep on the plane. Conversely, try to stay awake during the flight if it is daytime at your destination.

  • Exercise as much as you can on the flight while you’re awake. Stretch your arms and legs and walk up and down the aisles to stimulate good circulation, which will help lessen the impact of jet lag later.

  • Learn from past experience on how your body has coped with a particular trip. Find the system that best works for you.

  • Avoid taking sleeping pills as they can in fact just make the jet lag worse.

  • Upon arrival, resist the temptation to flake out and have a nap. Napping reinforces the old body clock time, not the new one.

  • In some instances, jet lag may not bother people when they are away, but only when they return. In that case, all the same advice above should be applied in the same way as when the trip first began.