Heading off on your holibobs? Mark Laws has some excellent tips to ease your jetlag woes. Happy holidays!
So, summer is here. Expect several things to happen over the next couple of months: people will wear far too little clothing; people will remember that they love tennis and cricket; and people will take great pleasure telling us all about their summer holidays.
If you have a holiday planned then you might benefit from some of my tips for combating the dreaded jet lag.
Jet lag occurs when you travel across time zones and confuse your body’s circadian rhythms. The further you travel, the more time zones you cross, the greater the effects will be. Some of the most common symptoms include extreme fatigue, digestion/bowel problems, memory/concentration issues and a loss of appetite – none of which are conducive to a nice relaxing holiday.
Along with your passport and your mosquito spray this guide could be one of the most important items you pack…
West is best. East is the beast
Your body is much better equipped to deal with a longer day than a shorter one, which makes it much easier to cope when we travel west. However, when we travel east our bodies can find themselves wanting to sleep when it’s time to wake up and vice versa. Anyone travelling from the UK to North/South America and the Caribbean should find it much easier to cope and jet lag will have minimal effect upon your actual holiday… but when you come home you’ll pay for it, whereas anyone travelling to Europe/Africa/Asia/Australasia is far more likely to suffer during their actual holiday.
Another thing to take into consideration is that recovery can often take one day per time zone crossed. So before you and the boys book that all inclusive seven-day trip to Kazakhstan, it’s worth considering that it could take the entire trip for your bodies to acclimatise, which is one of many reasons why it might be better to look elsewhere.
Adjust your bedtime
Start to gently adjust your routine before your departure date. If you are travelling west, they’re behind so you could get away with some late nights and a lie-in if possible. If you are travelling east, set the alarm an hour or two early in the morning and get yourself to bed early. This can help you massively once you arrive as you could have reduced the effects of the time difference by a couple of hours. I would also suggest changing your watch to the destination time before you leave.
Choose your flight carefully
The usual things to look out for when choosing your flight are price, airport and take-off time. I’ve been guilty myself of choosing a flight that leaves at a stupid time in the morning but saved me £18 – on reflection this is a stupid way to choose. I would urge you to make the landing time your biggest priority. You want to land in the daytime when the sun is shining and it is far easier to keep yourself awake. Lunchtime is ideal, because within a few hours you will have checked in and unpacked, which leaves you with half a day to explore, find your bearings and to get a decent meal inside you. All being well you have an early night and wake up feeling great on the first full day of your holiday. If this means paying an extra few quid for the flight or driving an extra hour to a different airport then it’s worth it. You may also deliberately choose flights with a stopover, as this gives you more time to adjust your body-clock as you travel and could even give you chance to explore an additional city. Indirect flights are often cheaper too so this could be well worth exploring in order to maximise your experience.
No drink and drugs
Chances are you aren’t visiting a Tibetan monastery to appreciate the benefits of a tee-total lifestyle on the resident monks. There will be plenty of opportunity to drink your bodyweight in Sangria, San Miguel and Sex on the Beach but avoiding alcohol, caffeine and sleeping pills before and during your travels will help you to overcome the effects of jet lag far more easily. Alcohol will make you dehydrated and tired, caffeine can dehydrate you and prevent you from sleeping, whilst sleeping pills in particular are likely to leave you feeling hazy when you land, so sticking to water and herbal teas are the way forward. Rock and roll all the way.
Eat and move
Airlines aren’t exactly renowned for their gourmet dining but they are getting better. Be sure to get plenty of good food inside you, even if it means spending less time before you board searching for duty-free perfume and more time to find some suitable plane snacks. There will be plenty of salads to choose from and nuts/fruits to take on board with you.
Once the flight is under way and that seat-belt light goes off, get yourself out of your seat and move around. Can you do more laps than the stewardesses? Sitting for extended periods of time in uncomfortable seats with limited leg room watching crappy films is not good for your stress levels and is certainly not optimal for your chances of a quick recovery. Exercise boosts all manner of endorphins and by stretching and walking any effects of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) are greatly reduced.
If you can follow some/all of these points, they will really help you to adjust your body-clock to the destination and help you to enjoy your holiday as much as possible. Alternatively you can just ignore my advice, stay out drinking until it’s bedtime in the UK and then sleep all day on a lilo getting burned to a crisp… why change the habits of a lifetime!