Jet lag: the dreaded enemy of crossing time zones. I’m sure you’ve been there. You’ve just made it through your long-haul flight and stepped foot on the soil of the destination you’ve dreamed of visiting. But there’s just one problem. You feel awful. Rather than spending the first few days of your holiday relaxing and enjoying the new locale, you’re recovering from the unpleasant effects of jet lag, desperately trying your best to stay awake long enough so you don’t mess up your sleeping patterns. Jet lag, however, is accompanied by more than just fatigue and sleep problems. It can also lead to mood changes, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, and nausea, none of which are going to help you enjoy your time away.
It’s important to be aware that there are many steps you can take to beat jet lag. Here are five of the most effective travel hacks that can help.
1. Stay in the right time zone
Let’s start with the obvious. If you want to avoid jet lag, then it’s best to go to sleep at the time you usually go to sleep, in the new time zone. Avoid the temptation to have a quick nap before late evening. You may have a long nap and then no longer be able to sleep when it gets to night-time. Or you may wake up to your alarm and, understandably, just go back to sleep. You can stay in the right time zone by keeping busy in the day (and staying far away from your hotel room). You may not have a massive amount of energy, but remaining occupied with activities or exploring can distract you from the temptation to sleep early.
2. Take a melatonin supplement
Studies have shown that taking half a milligram of melatonin can be effective at preventing jet lag. It’s recommended that, when crossing time zones flying East, you take this amount five hours before bedtime, ideally starting this routine a few days before your departure. Always check with your doctor, though, about how melatonin might interact with any other medication you’re on. Most healthy adults find melatonin does the trick, reducing jet lag or even stopping it from happening in the first place.
3. On your flight, mimic the time at your destination
This involves setting your watch to the time at your destination and wearing an eye mask and noise-cancelling earplugs when your newly adjusted watch signals its bedtime. If, on the other hand, you’re feeling sleepy but it’s daytime in the time zone you’re travelling to, it’s vital to keep your blood flowing while flying. You can do this through light exercises such as knee lifts, ankle circles, neck rolls, and walking up and down the aisle.
4. Pay attention to the food you’re eating
Diet is a low-cost, safe, and easily altered way of minimising or avoiding jet lag. According to one study, following the Argonne diet is highly effective in this respect. This diet involves alternating between feasting and fasting for four days before your flight. So, your eating schedule would look like this:
- Day 1: Feast: eat a high-protein meal breakfast and lunch, and a high-carb, low-protein meal for dinner.
- Day 2: Fast: Eat only light foods, such as broths, salads, and toast
- Day 3: Feast again
- Day 4: This is the day of your flight. You’ll end up fasting again. It’s also best to avoid caffeine. Then, when it’s breakfast time in your destination, eat a high-protein breakfast. In addition, be sure to stretch and expose yourself to as much light as possible. When you land, you should feel fresh and energised.
5. Make use of technology
Many types of sleep masks been specially designed to help you sleep. For example, the Neuroon sleep mask has a Jet Lag Blocker feature, which allows you to tackle the sleep problems related to rapid time zone changes. After setting your travel destination in the Neuroon mobile app, the sleep mask fine-tunes its bright light therapy, helping you get to sleep (and awake) when you need to. Another option is the GoToSleep mask, which uses a gently dimming light to help you fall asleep.
By combining a mixture of these tips, you will give yourself the best chances of avoiding jet lag altogether and being able to enjoy your holiday to the fullest, as soon as you land.