Travelling long distances to new countries can be both exciting and exhausting, however adjusting to the new schedule can be challenging. Jetlag is a common travel symptom from long-distance travel across time zones that can leave you feeling shattered and temporarily disrupt your trip while your body clock adjusts.
This article will explore several strategies for preventing jetlag, so you can start your holiday feeling rested and able to hit the ground running
1. Switch to the new timezones schedule before heading off
A day or two before leaving, try to vary your wake-up and bedtime to prepare your body for the new timezone, this could be as little as waking up or going to bed an hour early.
Once you’ve boarded the plane, set your clock to the new timezone and base your sleeping off this time. If its night at the destination, try to get as much sleep as you can on the plane, if day, try to stay occupied during the flight so you can sleep at the destination. Avoid napping at the destination during the day as this only prolongs the time required
2. Drink water on the flight and avoid alcoholic beverages
Dehydration is a major component of Jetlag and throughout a long-haul flight, you can lose between 1-2L. This is partly due to the heavy air conditioning, limited availability of water and many reluctance of using the aircraft restrooms.
Ideally carry a drink bottle with you and drink 1 glass full of water every hour. Alcoholic beverages can dehydrate you leading to both a killer headache and severe jetlag on landing.
3. Fly on newer aircraft
New aircraft don’t just have better entertainment systems and WIFI!
The latest generation 787 Dreamliner and A350 are built using advanced carbon fibre structures which allow the cabin to be pressurised to a lower altitude, often 6000ft instead of 8000ft found on the older A330’s and 777.
This 2000ft adds ~8% more oxygen into the air and significantly higher levels of humidity reducing dehydration and significantly reduce the uncomfortable sensation of a dry throat after the flight.
4. Choose Your Seat & Book the window seat
There are few things worse than getting woken up every few hours with a fellow passenger wanting to step over you to use the restrooms.
If you plan to have an undisturbed sleep on the flight, try to reserve a window seat and choose seating away from galleys or lavatories.
Seat Guru is an amazing tool to help choose a good seat for your particular flight and avoid problematic seats such as those near lavatories, and limited foot room due to entertainment system boxes.
5. Book an overnight flight and bring suitable comforts for the flight if planning to sleep
Overnight (Red-Eye flights) are an excellent way to catch up on sleep and arrive at your destination refreshed. Remember to pack a light blanket, eye-mask and a good set of noise cancelling headphones such as the Sony WH-1000XM5
6. Consider sleeping medications such as melatonin
Medical Publications have shown Melatonin supplements are very effective at reducing jet lag when crossing several time zones and can assist in adjusting your sleep rhythm.
Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body in response to darkness to promote sleep and is generally very safe to use short term. While Melatonin is available over the counter in some countries, it is recommended you discuss any medications with your GP before taking to ensure it is right for you.
7. Try to get outside and skin exposed to sunlight
The opposite of sleeping tablets, getting natural sunlight at the destination helps reset the body clock to the new timezone and produce vitamin D which can reduce fatigue.
Once at the destination and checked in at your hotel, consider going for a short walk around the area.
8. Limit heavy meals while travelling
Eating only light meals just prior and while travelling to your destination helps reduce the glycogen (blood sugar) reserves in your body which can assist the body clock more quickly adjust to the new timezone.
At the new destination, eating a full protein-rich meal for breakfast signals to the body the start of a new day and get your body back into the rhythm.
9. Minimise First Day Stress
Travelling is naturally very stressful and can wear down your energy. Having all your travel documents and itinerary prepared for the first couple of days is invaluable both logistically and mentally after a long flight.
You should avoid overbooking yourself for the first day if possible and reserve it for getting your bearings.
While long-distance travel can be taxing on your body, there are strategies to help manage with Jet Lag and fatigue.