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Relish Your Travels, Jetlag-Free

The Flight Side
Relish Your Travels, Jetlag-Free

Well, not quite ‘jetlag-free’, but there are measures you can take to reduce the effects of long flights across time zones

As you merrily leap in and out of time zones making the most of your limited time overseas, your body’s natural 24-hour clock which controls your sleeping and waking pattern struggles to catch up. Tired and confused, you’re most likely to experience the disruption of your sleeping and waking cycle known as ‘jetlag’.

The more time zones you cross during a long-haul flight, the more severe jetlag can become. Symptoms of jetlag include sleepiness during the day, insomnia at night, mild disorientation, poor concentration, pangs of hunger at inappropriate times or lack of appetite as well as irritability. Though jetlag cannot be prevented, there are steps you can take to reduce its effects.

 

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MODIFY YOUR INTERNAL CLOCK

Shift your sleeping and eating times gradually to coincide with those at your destination a few days before your departure. For example, if you’re travelling east, go to bed an hour earlier than your usual time; if travelling west, go to bed an hour later. As soon as you land at your destination, adopt the local time for your daily routine.

 

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CURB CAFFEINE INTAKE

For 12 hours before as well as during your flight, avoid overeating and drinking too many drinks that contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea and cola.

 

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LOAD ON H2O

Dry cabin air during flight causes dehydration, so ensure that you are well hydrated before, during and after your flight. Dehydration results in diminished blood flow to your muscles, reduced kidney functions and fatigue, all of which induce jetlag.

 

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ALCOHOL? NO, THANK YOU

Cabin air dehydrates passengers, and altitude changes can quicken the effects of alcohol (the rule of thumb is one drink in the air is the same as two or three on the ground). While a glass of wine may calm you down, it also will dry you out and worsen the symptoms of jetlag.

 

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MID-FLIGHT SHUT-EYES

Take short naps during flight, especially when traveling overnight or flying west to east, or vice versa.

 

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WALK ABOUT

It may annoy the guy next to you as you tiptoe your way out to the aisle, but taking regular walks around the cabin and stretching your arms and legs when flying long distances helps in curbing jetlag.

 

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SOAK IN THE SUN

Once you arrive at your destination, try to spend some time outdoors. Soaking in the sunlight will help your body reset its natural time clock to coincide with your new surroundings.

 

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DELAY BEDTIME

Avoid going to bed as soon as you reach your hotel – unless, of course, you arrive at your destination at night, or reasonably close to a normal bedtime. When you’re knackered from travelling, a 20-minute catnap could easily turn into a three-hour slumber, which will upset your sleep schedule even more.

 

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RESET YOUR WATCH

Adjust your watch to match the time of your new destination as soon as you get on the plane. This will help you adjust to your new time zone more efficiently.

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