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Tips for avoiding jet lag on long haul flights

25 May 2012 One Comment

Most travellers will want to make the most of their limited time on holiday and see as much of their holiday destination as possible. Unfortunately most travellers will also fail to take into account the effect the leap in time zones will have on the body.

If you have ever flown long haul you will probably already be aware of how much jet lag can disturb the first few days of your holiday as your body acclimatises to a new time zone. Common symptoms of jet lag include tiredness during the daylight hours and what feels like insomnia at night. Add poor concentration, hunger at inappropriate times and a general, underlying irritability at feeling unexplainably out of sync.

But thinking ahead can synchronise your body clock before you travel. A good general rule is that if you’re travelling west, go to bed later for a couple of nights, if you’re going east, go to bed earlier.

The following pieces of advice can also help reduce the effects of jet lag.

  • If possible book an overnight flight. You’ll have dinner at a normal time, have a full night’s sleep and arrive at your destination in the morning or afternoon. This is probably the best way to replicate your normal routine if you are passing through a number of time zones.
  • Drink a good amount of water before, during and after your flight. Reducing dehydration will help keep your energy levels up. Keeping hydrated is one of the most important parts of avoiding jetlag.
  • Don’t drink large amounts of alcohol or sleeping tablets which will unnaturally alter your sleeping pattern.
  • Sleep well before the flight and during long journeys and flights if you can. If you can get hold of an eye mask and some ear plugs, go for it.
  • If you’re travelling west, through four or more time zones, try and get some bright natural light in the early evening to help you adapt to the new time zone.
  • If you’re travelling east on your return, aim to get a flight which arrives home around midday, to get the brightest natural light available. Again, if you can, wear eyeshades on the plane in a dark quiet cabin.
  • As short bout of moderate exercise can help reset your body clock after arrival.

Generally, whether you’re arriving in a new destination, or returning home from your holiday. Try to fit in with the locals as soon as possible. Eat when they eat and sleep (or at the very least least) when they sleep.


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  • Jennifer said:

    Nice list of tips. I agree that once you arrive you need to do your best to act ask though there is no time change. Eat at the appropriate times and go to bed when it’s night and others are going to bed. Acclimate yourself as soon as possible.

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