The secret to a great night's sleep

How to beat jet lag

Jet lag… the only downside of travelling to exotic, far away places. It can ruin the start of your trip and completely throw you off when you return home. Luckily a collection of sleep researchers have come up with helpful tips of how to beat it. 


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Whenever you travel to a country with a different timezone it is more than likely that you will find yourself wide awake in the middle of the night, and on your return you can barely stay awake through dinner.

Sleep researchers from multiple institutes have compiled a list of tips to finally beat jet lag, or at least make it more tolerable: 


Make sure you're well rested before travelling 

Already being sleep deprived will only add to the intensity of jet lag. If you regularly fall asleep within five minutes of lying down, that's a sign of sleep deprivation (or a sleep disorder), according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

To try and combat sleep deprivation before a big trip our sleep expert Dr Nerina says, "Winding down properly before getting in to bed is crucial to helping you sleep better. You are more likely to access efficient deep sleep. Try reading a book, listen to relaxing music or having a bath".


Adjust your body clock a bit ahead of your trip

Before arriving in your new time zone, you can start the adjustment process before you even leave home, says Christopher Colwell, a professor of psychiatry at University of California, Los Angeles, who studies circadian rhythms. Start going to bed and getting up a little later or earlier, depending which direction you're travelling and that will give you a head start for when you get there.


Drink plenty of water on the plane

"The lower oxygen and dry air on planes can have all sorts of ill effects" explains Joseph Stromberg, a science journalist in the US "That's why researchers recommend drinking plenty of water before and during your flight (and avoiding dehydrating alcoholic and caffeinated beverages), walking around during flights to improve circulation (and the amount of oxygen getting to your brain)".


Use light to adjust to the new time zone

If you're trying to adjust to a new time zone, get lots of light during daylight hours, especially in the mornings. Remember that outdoor light is generally better for retraining your brain, it's brighter than indoor light, even on a cloudy day. According to Susannah Locke, a science researcher for neuroscience and genetics you should also limit light exposure near bedtime, including from computers and televisions. 

Dr Nerina agrees, "Natural light keeps your internal clock on a healthy sleep-wake cycle so let the light in first thing in the morning. Looking at your smartphone before bed has negative effects on the quality of your sleep, so it's best to shut down laptops, mobiles and avoiding emails and social media at least 90 minutes before bed."

Do you suffer with jet lag? Have you got any tips? Let us know on our Facebook or Twitter! For more tips from our sleep expert Dr Nerina, have a look at our Sleep Toolkit.



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