If you’re escaping the UK’s cold winter and setting off to a more tropical destination, you might have the dreaded jet lag on your mind. Fly west and you’ll be up with the larks, but nodding off at the dinner table; head east, and you’ll likely be wide awake at 3am with only middle-of-the-night TV for company. But fear not – with our globetrotting team’s travel tips, we’ll help you put those jet lag fears to bed (quite literally) once and for all.
Break the routine
If you’re used to eating and heading to bed at the same time every night, it doesn’t take a genius to realise that travelling long haul will shake up your sleep pattern. As your flight gets closer, try and change your routine up a bit. Enjoy a late cinema trip, eat dinner after the soaps on TV… you get the idea. The change in time should be made a little easier on you if you mix it up a little. If you’re heading to Mexico or the Caribbean, try and stay up a bit later than usual, and if you’re travelling to Thailand, Bali or the Indian Ocean, go to sleep earlier.
Don’t listen to rumours
‘I’m going to stay up really late (if not all night) the night before a flight, so I’ll sleep right through the flight’. I was a sucker for believing this for many years, but really, who can manage to sleep upright in a seat for hours? Unless you’re flying business or first, get a good night’s sleep the night before – then any sleep you get on the flight is a bonus.
Still try to sleep
Having said that, if you’re on a night flight, it’s important to try and get a bit of shut-eye on the plane – so come prepared. Noise-cancelling headphones, neck pillows and sleep eye masks are the top three items our team chose to help them sleep (some also swore by a cosy pair of socks – apparently warmer tootsies help you to nod off quicker).
Trick the brain
As soon as you get on the flight, change the time on your watch to your new time zone. As you watch the hours go by you can try and get your brain used to the new cycle.
Don’t be tempted by the trolley
Try to avoid alcohol on the plane. You could be forgiven for wanting a couple of drinks to help along your sleeping, but the altitude will make the dehydration worse. No-one enjoys a mid-flight wine head!
Drink lots of water
Drink plenty of water on the flight – that’s all we need to say on that one!
Do as the locals do
When you arrive, you are bound to be tired and dreaming of that giant, comfy hotel bed. But try not to head straight to the sack – instead, try and get onto local time. Obviously if you arrive in the middle of the night, sleep, but if it’s daytime, do your best to stay awake no matter how tired you are. If you really can’t, have a power nap (keep it under an hour, though).
Get that blood pumping
Exercise is good for you! So it goes without saying that if you can hit the pool for some lengths, or even the gym if you just can’t leave that at home, getting the body moving will help reset your body clock.
Get out in the sun
One of the most important things you can do when you arrive in a destination and it’s still day time – get out in the sun. Your circadian rhythm responds to your eyes detecting light, so the sun can help it adapt much faster.
Why not stopover?
Finally, maybe you could consider adding a stopover to your holiday. Destinations such as Dubai, Hong Kong or Singapore make great additions to your holiday, becoming more than just a stopover. This will help the body gradually get used to a different time zone.
Are you a frequent long-haul flyer? Do you have any top tips?