Jet Lag. It’s a painful reality for most long-haul travelers, and for us Aussies it’s seemingly unavoidable since the majority of our international destinations are on average over 14hrs in travel time, with often multiple time zones to cross before we reach our destinations. (Yawn! Why haven’t they invented teleportation yet?)
Over the years I’ve definitely had my fair share of Jet lag. I remember sleeping through a whole afternoon and evening in Israel, after laying down for a ‘nap’, only to wake up the next morning. Needless to say, upon realizing I’d slept for about 15hrs and my daughter ate her dinner for breakfast which included schnitzel and rice. Rookie error or what?
When effects of long haul travel hit me, I always found myself thinking, how GOOD would it be to find that magic formula to avoid Jet Lag and arrive at your destination fresh faced, well rested and ready to take on the world?
Or arrive home, without needing a holiday from your holiday, due to the drowsiness and grogginess that Jet Lag always leaves you feeling. I know there are pills and remedies that ‘claim’ to help, but I’d never found anything that really worked. In fact one time I gave it to my baby as I thought she’ll sleep better at the flight and she got the opposite reaction?! She was awake all flight, for like 11 hours.
But, the good news is that after 20 years of travel I may have finally found some reliable methods to avoid jet lag for good. Oh and when I say that ‘I’ may have finally found a way, I really mean that my husband has read up all about jet lag, the effects and some solutions…. So, it’s definitely all him! (I just get to write about it).
So, what is this mysterious jet lag curing method? Well… It’s not 1 thing. It’s a combination of super logical, tried and tested components that together, have your body thinking that everything is fine and dandy, and that you haven’t actually just spent 24hrs, travelling in a pressurized metal tube, void of anything remotely resembling real food or fresh air.
Before I go into it, the effects of Jetlag include trouble falling asleep, early awakening, interrupted sleep, poor concentration, increased fatigue, headaches, digestive problems etc.… etc.…
It’s caused by crossing the various time zones. Your body clock isn’t in sync with the destination because you’ve experienced daylight and darkness that are contrary to the rhythms to which you’re accustomed.
So, here are 5 tips to help you beat Jet Lag, and after putting these to the test on a recent long haul trip to the Middle East from Australia (about 24hrs in transit, door to door), I have to say that neither of us felt even remotely Jet lagged, on our arrival or upon our return. YEW!
1. Drink water & avoid central nervous system stimulants like caffeine or alcohol.
This is probably a no brainer when travelling, but to stay hydrated while flying, drink water every hour, and avoid alcohol and coffee.
I know it’s is all too tempting to drink alcohol on the plane. You might be excited about your holiday, and keen to celebrate with a glass of bubbly, or a nervous flyer where a cheeky nip scotch will calm the nerves, but you should definitely avoid it.
As for drinking water, I know some people worry about drinking a lot on flights, as you may need to head to the bathroom more frequently (especially awful if you’re in a middle or window seat and trapped in by someone else), BUT you need water! Drink as much as you can every hour, and don’t worry about bugging the person next to you. It’s better to arrive hydrated, than feeling like a dried sultana
2. Eat well (and don’t eat the plane food!)
Eating healthy nutrient dense food is the best way to go, and a word of warning… this is NOT the food that is served to you on a plane. Avoid it at all costs!!
Airline meals are practically void of any nutrients and it’s high in sodium (so they can try to make the food actually taste OK), and in reality, you don’t NEED the food that they serve you on a flight.
The longest trip you’ll take is a maximum of about 15 hours, and they are usually overnight, so eat at normal times before and after you fly, and take your own food for snacks.
We normally eat a good healthy meal before we get on the flight, and then take things like Fruit, Nuts, Veggies and homemade ‘healthy’ treats to snack on.
Oh, and eat light and small portions, as digestive disorders can occur due to the seating position, so the smaller the portions the better.
3. Take a Melatonin supplement (If you don’t have kids with you)
Melatonin is the hormone released before we sleep, so taking this before sleep will help reboot circadian rhythm. Aligning your sleep to your destinations time zone gradually is important too. The airline will dictate the sleep/wake time zones for you, so try to sleep on the plane, if it’s bed time at your destination.
4. Take Anti-Oxidants
Reactive oxygen species cause damage to cell structure and are increased when travelling, due to the exposure of environmental stresses that you will encounter. This is part of the reason you end up tired and lethargic after a flight.
The pressurized cabin and change of environment on the plane is super taxing on our bodies, so taking immune boosting anti-oxidants such as Curcumin extract and Vitamin C, will help fight those environmental stresses.
5. Exercise on arrival
I know it’s probably the last thing you’ll feel like doing after a long haul flight, but studies show the normalizing effect of exercise on the circadian rhythm (body clock), will help you adjust to the new time zones faster.
Hit the gym at the hotel or even better get outside. Breathe in the fresh air, go to a park, go for a run or walk on the beach, and feel the earth beneath your feet.
More studies show that ‘grounding’ yourself during a flight (by placing your feet on the metal foot rests beneath your seat) and/or after a flight, by walking barefoot on the grass or earth, lowers inflammation, normalizes cortisol and speeds up recovery, and you might not realize but our bodies cop a beating when flying, so get active and you’ll recover faster.
There you have it. Tips on how to BEAT the dreaded Jet Lag, that as mentioned I’ve used personally on long haul trips, and it’s worked!!
Thanks for reading as always, and I hope that this post helps you arrive at your next destination feeling as good as can be!