Not everyone has the luxury of travelling business class and arriving fresh ‘out of flatbed’ at their holiday destination. And even if you’re lucky enough to get some shut-eye on the plane, there is no doubt that travelling long distances can be the cause of insomnia, dehydration, headaches and stress in general. Since we wouldn’t want your jet lag to ruin all you have accomplished during your wellness escape, we decided on this article on how to best manage and avoid a jet lag. Below tips are designed to boost your ‘biological clock reset process’ to counteract the effects of long haul journeys.
Before You Leave
Where possible (and we know this is sometimes out of your control), try to choose a flight that doesn’t depart before 9am to avoid losing sleep before your holiday has even started. Starting your trip well rested is one of the best ways to avoid fatigue later on. Avoid any caffeinated drinks at least 12 hours prior to takeoff.
The ideal arrival time at your destination would be late afternoon or evening so you can almost instantly enjoy a full night of sleep. Alternatively, a red-eye flight will probably give you the best chance of actually sleeping on the plane, in which case you should resist the temptation to sleep if you arrive at your hotel early in the day. Adjusting to the local time as quickly as possible is the best thing you can do to reset your body clock. This also means you can start going to bed and getting up earlier a few days before departure (when flying east) or staying up and getting up later (flying west).
If you can pre-select a seat on the plane, try to get one in a ‘quieter’ area of the plane with extra leg room (emergency exit) away from the bathrooms. Keep in mind this means bulkhead seats are not an option as they are usually near the gallery. You can always ask the check-in agent if there are any empty rows on the plane to give you some extra space to sleep.
The final preparation before your flight is to ensure you carry your in-flight must-haves in your hand luggage. I was recently asked by My Deal about my travel essentials and an absolute must for me are earplugs. They are perfect if you want some extra peace and quiet (snoring neighbours, crying children - it’s all part of travelling) and I don’t travel without them these days. Moisturiser, an eye mask and a bottle of water (refill on the plane) are also a must.
Wear comfy, loose-fitted clothes and plenty of layers in case the captain cranks the aircon or heating up. I usually get quite chilly on a flight so a hoodie is always a good idea. Nothing worse when trying to sleep on a plane with air conditioning blasting down your neck. Brrr..
Try to get as comfortable as possible soon after boarding. Kick off your shoes, grab a blanket or pillow, and change your watch to the time at your destination. Start acclimatising immediately, if you haven’t already done so prior to your flight. Eat and sleep according to the local time at your destination rather than the airline’s schedule, which often means you’re eating heavy meals at the most odd hours. Even if it’s still daylight, put your eye mask on and earplugs in, and try to have a snooze.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine and drink lots of water instead. Not only will these drinks exacerbate being dehydrated, it will also disrupt your sleeping cycle even more which in turn slows down your body clock reset process.
Move your ass! And I mean this in in the nicest possible way. You need to get your blood circulation going so walk down the aisle, stand up in the gallery and do some stretches (even in your seat). Rotate your neck carefully to release tension that has built up and stretch your arms and legs as if you’d been for a run.
If you’re taking a red-eye long haul flight eastward, set an alarm and wake up at 7 or 8am local time. Try to stay awake (remember, no coffee) by doing some stretches, walk around the plane or watch a movie.
Stick to the schedule of your new time zone immediately and if there is any, go and enjoy some sunshine! Natural light has proven to reset your internal clock to get you acclimatised quicker. This doesn’t mean having a nap on the beach! Go for a walk instead or read a book outside.
Set your alarm for the next day to avoid sleeping in until you wake up. This will only disrupt your sleeping pattern further.
Do some gentle morning stretches to wake up your body or if available, participate in a yoga class. Before bed, do a breathing exercise instead of sharing your amazing hotel view with your friends on Instagram. Spending time on your digital devices will stimulate and ‘wake’ your brain, often leading to a restless night.
And finally, treat yourself to a rejuvenating body or foot massage to improve circulation and relieve fatigued muscles.