Jetlag : we’ve all had it at some point before in our lives. Maybe you’ve just returned from your travels in a distant country, or you’ve already been back for a few days, or you’re just about to head back home and want to know how to tackle the jetlag when you get there. Whatever your situation, you know that it’s only a matter of time before the jetlag hits hard, or perhaps it already has. They say that it takes one day for each time zone that you pass through for your body to recover from jetlag. So, for instance, if your home time zone is a six hour difference from where you’ve just been, you will have jetlag for approximately six days. But, don’t despair! Whether you’re experiencing a slight bit of nausea, or completely struggling to keep your eyes open, we’ve got you covered. Here’s our handy travel guide for how to beat the jetlag; we guarantee you’ll be feeling back to your normal self in no time.
1. Get plenty of sleep the night before your long haul flight.
So, you’re due to fly home tomorrow and you’re dreading it. Your flight will likely last several hours, maybe all through the night, but the first step is to try to get as much sleep as you can before the day of your flight.
I know it’s easier said than done, as a lot of people experience pre-flight anxiety when they’re travelling thousands upon thousands of miles, but if you’re well rested even before you switch time zones, then you’re already one step ahead before you’ve even started.
2. Work out how much sleep you need on the plane.
Before you get on the plane, set your watch backwards or forwards to your home time zone. Then try to work out whether some kind of nap or sleep will be beneficial in order to help you get back into that time zone. For example, if your flight departs at midday and lasts eight hours, but your home time zone is five hours back – then have a nap almost as soon as you get on the plane so that you will be able to stay up until bedtime of your home time zone. This is a handy little tip, and massively helps to prevent the jetlag from striking too aggressively.
3. Force your body to stay awake until night time.
This step is really difficult when all you want to do is sleep. So, it’s 6p.m. at home, you’re trying to make it until 10p.m. before you go to bed – and you’re absolutely exhausted from your flight.
You’ve hit a brick wall, your eyes are drooping massively, and there’s just no way you can stay up a moment longer. Well, it’s important that you do! I know it’s challenging, but try your best to stay awake until a reasonable time. You don’t have to last until your usual bedtime, but try not to go to bed too early. If you’re really struggling, you can wake yourself up by getting up and taking a short walk around your house or garden. And if all else fails – grab some caffeine.
4. Eat proper meals.
When you’re super tired, it’s easy to forget to eat. You grab a snack here and there, but it’s too much hassle for you to cook yourself a proper meal. This is where you’re going wrong. It’s so important to eat a good, square meal when you’re jetlagged, at the meal times according to your home time zone.
For example, if you wake up too early at 4am..– don’t decide to have your breakfast of the day then and there. If you’re hungry, by all means, have a little snack. But then go back to sleep, wake up, and have breakfast at your usual breakfast time. I always find that I feel extremely nauseous with jetlag when I don’t have enough to eat, so make sure you are eating well, as well as eating at the appropriate times.
5. Get some vitamin D.
This one has been proven, according to jetlag experts. If you can get outside in the sunshine when you’re back in your home time zone, then make sure you do so. Sunshine and vitamin D reduces the effects of jetlag and actually helps you to get over it quicker.
If you can’t get out in the sunshine because you have to work – or if, like me, you live in a country where sunshine is practically non-existent – then don’t despair. You can buy vitamin D in tablet form at your local health food shop. Or you can simply proceed to the next step.
6. Let your body rest.
Perhaps you’re one of the unlucky few who has to go into the office the very next day after your long haul flight, or you have a million and one things to do, and have no time to stop. It’s extremely important to let your body rest when you’re jetlagged. You’ve made your body travel such a long way, on a plane where the air is artificial, and put it through several different time zones.
It’s tired, it’s exhausted, and it doesn’t know what on earth is going on for a few days. It’s all out of sorts, so you need to have sympathy. You need to give your body time to heal. This means early nights and plenty of rest. Don’t go rushing to the gym the next day, or start driving the three hour car journey to go have a booze-filled weekend with an old friend. Well, you can, but it will take your body even longer to recover.
7. Distract yourself from thinking about it.
When I’m jetlagged, I seem to wallow in my own little pool of self-pity. I tell anyone who will listen that I’m jetlagged and I can’t human properly. It’s almost like I seem to enjoy everybody knowing that I have jetlag so they can provide me with the sympathy I so desperately crave. I spent hours moaning that I feel ill. I feel sick. My body is dead. I can’t keep my eyes open – and so on, and so forth. It’s not always to someone either, sometimes I just moan to myself. But I’m not really helping myself by dwelling on it. In fact, I’m almost thinking about it too much, and it’s having a negative psychological impact. Contrary to the last step where I told you to rest your body, you also need to put measures in place to distract yourself from the way you’re feeling. This could be something as simple as watching that TV show you’ve been meaning to catch up on, or going for a little walk – hopefully in the sunshine! Stop telling yourself you feel rough, and start telling yourself that it’s okay, because you will feel a lot better soon. And in the meantime, distract your mind.
I know these tips are easier said than done, but if you commit to one, some, or even all of them, then I’m sure you will find that you feel a lot better soon. Jetlag can be nasty, but it never lasts too long. Just remember all your travel memories and realise that, even though your body is going through a lot to enable it to get back to normal, it’s worth the temporary pain. Stay strong, you’ve got this!