Jet lag is one of the few downsides to travelling long-haul. It can wipe you out and leave you in a zombie like state for the first few days of your trip, and even worse for a couple of days when you've returned home. Holiday blues with a jet lag kicker is a really bad place to be!
So, what actually is jet lag?
Jet lag happens when you cross time zones, usually on a long-haul flight, and feel the effects on your levels of appetite, alertness, and sleep patterns. Your internal clock- or circadian rhythm- usually keeps your daily eating and sleeping patterns in check, and is so efficient it carries on regardless of where you are in the world. Your body basically just continues running in the same rhythm it followed at home, and adjusting to new meal times and bedtimes can take a couple of days.
Jet lag is going to get you in one way or another, but below are some tips that will help minimise the effect and hopefully allow you to get into the swing of a new time zone in record time.
Avoid the bar.
It’s usually very tempting to start your holiday as soon as you’ve checked your bags, and celebrate with a couple of drinks as you wait for your flight. It seems obvious, but the effects of alcohol and high altitude will increase tiredness and dehydration, making it harder than usual beat the jet lag.
Like alcohol, coffee, coke, and any energy drink with artificial stimulants will affect your ability to sleep and increase the time you’ll need to recover from jet lag. Drinking plenty of water is really the best thing you can do to ensure you’re hydrated and your body is functioning at its best. This will help your body clock adapt quickly in your new destination.
Try to get as much sleep as you would in a normal 24-hour period – and, if you are a bit behind, take a nap or two in your first couple of days to catch up.
Use the flight to get some well needed sleep hours too. Pack an eye mask, some noise cancelling headphones with some soothing music already downloaded, and drift away for a couple of hours.
When you land, set your clocks to the current time in your location, it’ll help you get in to the swing of your destination time quickly.
Jet lag hates exercise and fresh air.
Jet lag hates fresh air, daylight, and exercise. Even sitting outside for a couple of hours and getting some time in the sun after your flight will help lessen the effects of jet lag. Although it may feel like the last thing you want to do, consider some light exercise – even just a stroll around your new surroundings – to help your body and mind adapt. Force yourself to get your bearings by at least walking around the area close to your accommodation to help with this; you never know, you might discover some cool things to do and see that you can come back to later on in your trip.
If nothing works?
If you haven’t managed to follow these tips, or your circadian rhythm is just far too good, check out some 24 hour activities in your destination. Vegas won’t be a problem for you, but if you are somewhere a little more low-key, check out a beautiful sunrise, go for an early morning jog or drive, or spend a few sleepless hours doing some research on what you want to do with your first few days away – make the most of your time, even if the first day or so is a bit hazy. It’ll be time to get back on the plane before you know it!
Pairofpassports.com is a travel blog by Hannah and Rob from Peterborough, UK. They're happiest when they are exploring a new place or planning their next trip. One day they want to travel full time, but until then PairofPassports.com is the place where they will record their travel experiences and tips as they explore the world. firstname.lastname@example.org.