Don't let jet lag ruin your holiday with these genius tips

Tips and hacks for avoiding jet lag



Jet lag can leave you feeling tired and sluggish, and leave your body clock feeling confused. While there’s no instant cure for finding yourself in a different time zone, there are small actions you can take to reduce the intensity of your jet lag.

Discover 24 ways to beat jet lag...

Adjust your bedtime

<p>All About Space/Shutterstock</p>

All About Space/Shutterstock

Prepping your body for jet lag can make a huge difference. If you're going somewhere that's three hours ahead, going to bed an hour later before you travel can help you adjust when you get there.

Don’t go out the night before you fly


Some of us love to celebrate before heading out on a trip, but if you need to hit the ground running when you arrive at your destination, have a night in. When you're jet-lagged, you're already dealing with a sleep deficit, so minimise this lack of rest by getting an early night.

Shop around for the right plane

<p>Dmitry Birin/Shutterstock</p>

Dmitry Birin/Shutterstock

If you're serious about your sleep cycle, consider which plane you'll be travelling in before you book. Newer planes are much more comfortable for passengers. The Airbus A350 and the Boeing 777X have hi-tech humidification systems meaning there is more moisture in the air, so you're less likely to feel dehydrated and have trouble sleeping.

Give your hormones a boost



Melatonin is the hormone your body produces to induce sleep, so if you have trouble sleeping on flights, taking melatonin tablets could help. They don't pack a punch like medicated pills but simply give the body a signal that it’s time to sleep.

Plan your nap



Napping on long-haul flights helps reduce the sleep deficit you’ll feel the night of your arrival. But planning your naps is much more effective than just dozing off when you feel tired. If you wouldn’t lie in your own bed watching TV and eating snacks to get off to sleep, apply the same principles when sleeping on a plane.

Pick your entertainment wisely

<p>Tero Vesalaine/Shutterstock</p>

Tero Vesalaine/Shutterstock

The best part of flying is bingeing on the latest releases, but regulate what you watch and when. Save action-packed films for the beginning of your flight or when you wake up. Choose something feel-good and soothing before your designated nap.

Travelling west or east does matter



Once considered an urban myth, studies have shown that flying east and west affect jet lag differently. Going east takes your body one day per hour of time zone change to realign, according to Dr Adrian Williams, the UK's first professor of sleep medicine. He adds, “Body clocks cope better when travelling west, often cutting this adjustment period in half.”

Meditation soothes anxiety

<p>Piotr Swat/Shutterstock</p>

Piotr Swat/Shutterstock

Anxiety and fear around flying can stop people getting to sleep, thereby aggravating jet lag. Mitigate any nerves by downloading a meditation app like Headspace which will help calm your mind and aid a snooze. For other ways to cope with flying anxiety, read our helpful guide here.

Plan your jet lag

<p>Jet Lag Rooster</p>

Jet Lag Rooster

You can already use your phone to check in for your flight and save an electronic boarding pass, and you can also now develop a jet lag plan. Input your journey to website Jet Lag Rooster and it'll plot a suggested sleep programme to help you adjust to your new time zone.

Get the right light



If you expose your body to light at the right time, you can reduce the impact of jet lag. So, turn off any screens and pull down the blinds when you're meant to be sleeping. The type of light also makes a difference – blue light emitted by devices keeps you more awake, so switch to night-time mode as the light is softer and less jarring.

Don't overdo dehydrating drinks

<p>Pong Handsome/Shutterstock</p>

Pong Handsome/Shutterstock

Tea and coffee contain caffeine, which is a diuretic, so if you’re drinking a lot of them, rehydrate with water. Another key culprit is salty snacks like crisps and salted nuts. They're fine in small doses but also can be dehydrating, which can worsen the physical effects of jet lag. On average, experts say you need to drink about 235ml (8fl oz) of water per hour.

Avoid alcohol

<p>Yuliya Yesina/Shutterstock</p>

Yuliya Yesina/Shutterstock

Some people see in-flight beer and wine as staples of the flying experience, but drinking alcohol can easily disrupt your sleep. Even if you think it helps you doze off, the quality of your sleep will be a lot poorer than a shorter period of sleep without alcohol.

Change all your devices to the new time zone



Start getting into the right frame of mind by changing devices to your destination's time zone when you board the plane. It'll help to mentally adjust your body clock.

Go for the lighter food option



If you suffer badly from jet lag, tweaking your food choices on the flight might help. Indigestion is one of the physical symptoms of jet lag, so opt for lighter meals rather than rich comfort food.

Take your own herbal teabags

<p>Shulevskyy Volodymyr/Shutterstock</p>

Shulevskyy Volodymyr/Shutterstock

There are some amazing herbal teas with great sleep-inducing properties. Try chamomile, lavender, valerian root and lemon balm, or teas that contain a blend.

Bring your own meals



If you’re flying out of a major airport, chances are there'll be enough outlets to buy your own meals for the flight. On long-haul flights this can make a big difference to the severity of your jet lag, as it’s advised to start eating when you normally would in your destination's time zone. Most airlines start serving meals straight away which may not be right for your body clock. If you take your own food, you can control what you eat and when.

Take a sleep survival kit

<p>Dmitry Galaganov/Shutterstock</p>

Dmitry Galaganov/Shutterstock

Don’t be afraid to pack a sleep survival kit because you never know who you might be sitting next to. Take ear buds or noise-cancelling headphones for any screaming kids and always pack an eye mask to regulate light. If you've got space, bringing comfy sleepwear and a toothbrush and toothpaste will also help make it feel more like your usual bedtime routine.

Move around the plane



Those people doing power lunges down the middle aisle may look silly but they're onto something. Jet lag slows your circulation right down, which means you feel the physical impact a lot more strongly once you land. Move around regularly and keep your circulation up.

Plan a stopover

<p>Alice Photo/Shutterstock</p>

Alice Photo/Shutterstock

Stopovers can make a huge difference in beating jet lag, allowing your body to rest between flights. This rings true especially for monster 22 to 24-hour flights, such as London to Sydney or Auckland.

Arrive in the daytime

<p>Jaromir Chalabala/Shutterstock</p>

Jaromir Chalabala/Shutterstock

The key to reducing jet lag is adjusting to your new time zone as quickly as possible. Booking a flight which arrives in the day will jolt your body awake. Arriving at night may make you feel disoriented and drowsy.

Buy a bottle of water once you land



After you land, buy a bottle of water as soon as you can to start re-hydrating, and keep hydrated for the next few days. It’ll help you stay sharper and more energised. Some people swear by electrolyte mixes such as Dioralyte.

Exercise on the day you land

<p>Jacob Lund/Shutterstock</p>

Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

When your body is in a state of fatigue, the last thing you might feel like doing is working out. But whether it’s going for a short run or doing a light impact workout in the hotel gym, studies have shown that exercise can help you synchronise your body clock more quickly and recover from jet lag faster.

Get plenty of sunshine

<p>HelloRF Zcool/Shutterstock</p>

HelloRF Zcool/Shutterstock

Sunlight positively impacts your body clock and helps it to adjust more quickly. A vitamin D boost from sitting in the sun will help clear a foggy, jet-lagged brain.

Ease off the sightseeing

<p>Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock</p>

Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

It can be tempting to pack in a lot of activities when you first arrive but give yourself a day to take it easy. Your jet-lagged brain and body will bounce back more quickly.

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