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Tips to Avoid Jet Lag

Jet lag strikes at the worst possible moment: the start of your holiday when you are supposed to be relaxing, having fun and just forgetting about work, home life and day-to-day chores.

You’re meant to be having fun on holiday, but instead, you are really suffering; you just don’t feel ‘right’. You’re exhausted, yet you can’t sleep, well not when you’re supposed to. You feel sick, you can’t eat properly; you’re just totally out of sync with life.

It’s not surprising really as it is difficult for the body to adjust to being in a different time zone. Our bodies operate on a 24-hour cycle and anything that disrupts it can cause jet lag.

Travelling from west to east is thought to be worse than travelling west to east – it’s easier to adapt to a longer day than it is to adjust to a shorter day (in the case of west to east travel). The more time zones travelled through the worse the symptoms can be.

The following tips should help to combat jet lag:

Change your clock, change your mind
From the moment you board the plane, try to adjust to the time zone that you are flying to. Set your watch to your destination time and then try to eat, drink and sleep at your destination’s times.

Another way to adapt to your destination time is to begin the time-zone adjustment a few days before your flight. Depending on where you are flying, getting up an hour earlier or staying up later for a few days may help you adjust to your destination's time quicker when you arrive.

Try to resist the temptation to sleep if you feel tired when you arrive and it’s daytime – it will only make adjusting to the time difference more difficult. Get outside into the sunshine. Daylight and sunshine are a major factor in resetting your body clock.

If you simply must sleep, set your alarm and try not to sleep for more than an hour.

Stay Hydrated
It’s vitally important to keep hydrated so you need to drink water, lots of it!  Avoid caffeine all together – and remember it’s not just present in coffee, it’s also found in tea. Avoid alcohol too as this dehydrates your body.

Night, Night
If it’s nighttime in your destination, try to get some sleep on the plane. At least close your eyes and try and rest, get into the zone of snuggling down and switching off.  It’s an idea to pack an eye mask, earplugs and a travel pillow.

Wakey, Wakey
If you’re landing at night, try to stay awake during the flight so you will be tired and ready to sleep when you arrive.

Fighting Insomnia
If you are worried about suffering from jet-lag-induced insomnia, visit your local health food shop or chemist prior to travel and get some sleeping aids – herbal sleeping tablets can be very effective at helping you to get to sleep.  What’s more, if you are suffering from insomnia avoid caffeine after 5pm. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol doesn’t aid sleep, so best to be avoided too. 

Alternatively, try a warm bath and a glass of warm milk, which is a natural sleep inducer.