I used to believe that jet lag didn’t exist.
I’m one of those lucky people who can sleep on any flight, no matter how bumpy or cramped. Although I never feel fully rested after a long flight, I’ve always found that after one good night of sleep I’d be fine.
In recent years, however, long-haul flights have knocked me out for days. Having experienced jet lag for myself, I now do all I can to avoid experiencing it on a long haul flight. Here’s how you can escape the dreaded jet lag too:
Make your prep stress-free
Starting your trip stressed and tired means you’re more likely to feel exhausted when you arrive at your destination. Try to get a good night of sleep the night before you fly so you wake up refreshed and ready to go. Last-minute packing is the almost a guaranteed way to stay awake at night, as you try to remember if you’ve forgotten something.
If you can manage to pack before the last moment, try to do so but even if you can’t get organised, at least make a list in advance of the things you need to take, so on the morning of your flight you remember to pack all of those easily forgotten items like your toothbrush and phone charger.
Eliminate early mornings
Waking up at the crack of dawn to fly will screw up your sleep pattern before you’ve even boarded. When you book a flight, bear in mind that you’ll need to be at the airport around two hours before you fly, plus you’ll need to add time to get there.
Rather than relying on public transport (which somehow always has delays just when I’m trying to reach the airport on time) consider booking a car service such as Blacklane
. I arranged for one of their luxury chauffeur-driven cars to take me to Heathrow before my recent flight to Australia, and knowing that the car would be at my home at the right time meant I didn’t need to worry about schlepping my suitcase onto the tube or praying that an Uber would be available when I needed it.
Upgrade your airport experience
I usually arrive at the airport much earlier than I need to, because the idea of missing a flight causes me too much stress to even risk it. Having all that extra time does mean that I have to find something to do for a few hours before I board, though.
I’m a huge fan of airport lounges like No. 1 lounge, where I can get free wifi, somewhere peaceful to sit and a healthy, light meal that will help me feel better when I board the flight. The better I feel when I board, the more likely I am to feel ok when I reach my destination, so it’s worth the small cost.
Increase your chances of sleep
One of my favourite tricks for flying is to book a window and aisle seat when I’m travelling with another person. If the flight isn’t full, you’re likely to have three seats between two, which makes sleeping so much easier. Even if the flight is full, the person in the middle will probably switch with one of you because let’s face it, no one wants the middle seat on a full flight.
You’ve probably heard that you should drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol, which is sound advice for getting a better sleep on your flight. You can also try sleep masks, earplugs, pillows, blankets…whatever will help you to be comfortable. It’s a good idea to turn off your screen and forego the entertainment if you want some rest, as those bright lights aren’t going to do you any favours.
Stay awake at your destination
This one can be tricky, but if you can stay awake when you arrive at your destination until the local night-time, you’ll find recovering from jet lag so much easier. You may feel like you need match sticks to keep your eyes open, especially if you arrive in the morning, but if you can keep moving, even by going for a slow stroll or heading to a cafe for some caffeine, your body will thank you for it the next day. You’ll be so exhausted that you will be more likely to sleep all the way through the night and adjust to the new time zone.
Don’t indulge your disrupted sleep
If you do wake up in the middle of the night, it’s best if you don’t let your body think that it’s day-time. It may not be easy to get back to sleep but some herbal tea, reading for a while or listening to chilled music should help your body to relax.
Getting up to eat a meal, check your emails or watch a movie will just wake you up more and make your body think you’re back in the previous time zone. If you push through the first couple of nights of disrupted sleep without giving in, your body will be more likely to adjust.
Of course, some people suffer from jet lag far more than I do, so I’d love to hear from you: what are your best tricks for adjusting to a new time zone?
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