In it for the long haul? How to beat the summer jet lag
The summer holiday season is here
and as thousands of you are jetting off to destinations all over
the globe. Travelling across time zones can cause huge disruptions
to our body clocks, which can often be detrimental to the first
couple of days of your trip as well as when you return from holiday
for work or school.
The World Health Organisation has
warned that long haul flights don't only affect our body clocks but
can also impact on our indigestion, bowel function, blood pressure
and general malaise.
In order to help travellers limit
the impact of long-haul flights, our resident sleep expert, Dr
Nerina Ramlakhan, has compiled her top tips for minimising symptoms
caused by crossing time zones:
1. Preparation is key and travellers
should start preparing the week before you travel. Get good sleep,
exercise regularly - preferably outdoors, eat healthily, avoid
caffeine and be well hydrated.
2. At the airport move around as
much as possible. Having so many hours to kill in an airport ahead
of a flight can make us all tempted to sit around and do very
little but this is the worst thing you can do. Stay active at the
airport and you won't feel as sluggish when you board your
3. On the day you are travelling,
and when you arrive at your destination, eat a healthy meal with
fresh fruit and vegetables. Avoid caffeine and refined sugars and
the heavily salted plane food if possible. Take snacks on board
with you such as oat cakes, nuts and dried fruit, crudités and
4. Drink wisely during your flight
to stay hydrated and avoid stimulants. Take a large bottle of water
on the plane with you and always have water at the ready. Take your
own herbal tea bags with you so you can still have a hot drink but
avoid caffeine and alcohol.
5. Close your eyes and meditate on
take off and landing for 20 minutes each time. Breathe deeply and
imagine putting down roots on your exhalation. Imagine those roots
going all the way down to the core of the earth, anchoring you to
the earth's core.
6. Get up out of your seat and move
around regularly. This will improve blood flow and stop you from
feeling too lethargic
7. If you have to work, only do so
for short amounts of time, then put your laptop and papers away and
choose some relaxing inflight entertainment, listen to music or
read a book. If you get tired though don't doze off during an
activity, if you start feeling sleepy, switch the film off or put
the book down and prepare to rest.
8. Put the emphasis on resting
rather than sleeping. Use products that use lavender oils or
eucalyptus on the plane such as tissues or scented flight cushions.
Use eye masks and ear plugs and put a 'DO NOT DISTURB' sign on your
table if you don't want to be woken for meals or duty free shopping
9. When you get to your destination
try to hold off on napping until it is time to sleep. If you feel
sleepy go for a walk on the beach. You must synchronise to your
destination to beat jet lag. Eat lightly as feeling too full will
add to your tiredness, stay hydrated and avoid
10. Avoid taking any medication to
help you sleep. Your body needs to naturally adjust to the timezone
and you disrupt this process using medication. If you can't
sleep, just lie down and think about having a rest - it's likely
you will drift off to sleep anyway.