Going on holiday is great, exploring the world is great – but what isn’t great is jet lag. Jet lag can often take over a week of your life following a holiday, leaving you feeling groggy and often wanting another holiday to recover. Our bodies have a hardwired night-and-day pattern known as a circadian rhythm, which forms our ‘body clock’. Travelling between time zones plays havoc with this.
Dr Ciara Yeates, a GP at London Doctors Clinic, shares her tips to kick jet lag into touch: ‘If you’re planning to take a longer trip, these steps should help you make the most of your holiday.’
Change your bedtime
This one is simple enough – begin adjusting your body clock several days before departure. For eastward travel, bring your bedtime forward by one to two hours and for westward travel, put it back.
If possible, try to book a flight which arrives at your destination during the early evening. Then stay awake until about 10pm before going to bed. It is also important to avoid napping excessively on the flight.
Check your medication
If you take regular medication, you should check with your practice nurse or GP to discuss whether it’s necessary to alter your original routine or not. If you are diabetic, make sure you know what to do with your medication and mealtimes.
Read more: How to really relax on holiday
During the flight
Set your watches
As soon as the plane doors shut, change your watch to reflect the local time at your destination. There is no value in thinking about when you would normally be sleeping!
Tactically plan your naps
If it is night-time when you arrive in your destination, then try to nap. On planes this can be difficult so make sure you bring along the essentials to help you sleep.
Steer clear of the in-flight bar!
When you’re on the plane, it can be tempting to have a few drinks with your meal, but it is best to avoid alcohol as it will disrupt your sleep pattern and can impact your quality of sleep. If you are eating, stick to light, easy-to-digest meals and avoid rich foods or large meals.
Read more: How to improve your drinking habits in 2018
On arrivalDon’t give in to sleep
The easiest way to adjust quickly is to stay up until 10pm and then go to bed as you normally would.Limit your daytime naps
If you absolutely must nap, and are arriving earlier in the day, then ensure you never sleep for more than two hours. If you are napping, make sure you set your alarm clock to wake you up. If you oversleep on the first day of arrival then you will find it much harder to adjust to local time.Get out and explore
The most powerful stimulus to get your brain adjusted to the new time zone is sunlight. Our body clock is governed by one of the more primitive parts of our brains and sunlight is a big trigger of our day-night rhythm. Pick something to sightsee and have a more relaxed day exploring your new surroundings!Avoid all stimulants before bed!
Tempting as they may be to keep you awake, you should try not to rely on these stimulants to perk you up. Alcohol and caffeine both act as natural stimulants so you should also avoid these, particularly three to four hours before bedtime.
And finally… Enjoy your holiday!